But the pressure of coursework and academic results mean that schools often don’t have the time or resources to help young people develop these skills.
But for teenagers in Sheffield, South Yorks, the Speak Out project has proved to be an essential and enjoyable experience in helping them to see how they can have a successful career once they leave school and start the next stage in their lives.
The project is run by Dr Andreanna Drencheva, a lecturer in entrepreneurship at the Sheffield University Management School.
She recruits mentors from different careers and industries around the city who coach young people in skills like public speaking, teamwork and building their confidence.
Helped by their mentors the teenagers also work in teams on a six week long project which aims to inspire social change, which they then present before a panel of judges for their feedback. Past themes have included tackling loneliness and encouraging local economic growth.
Dr Drencheva explained: “Speak Out was born out of a desire to provide young people with a meaningful opportunity to gain employability skills, be a force for positive change in their communities and learn more about their options after school.
“The experience of seeing the students grow and generate innovative ideas is both humbling and inspiring.”
The project was inspired by the UN sustainable development goals around delivering quality education and reducing inequality.
And while the benefits of mentoring and coaching sessions to the young people taking part are clear, the relationship works both ways. Mentors report that they have learned to use new digital technology through mentoring sessions and have had to learn how to connect and work with young people.
Jessica Swaithe is a senior accountant and also a Speak Out mentor. She said: “I’ve had to completely adapt my skills to working with young people. I’ve learnt new skills and developed my existing ones and I will take this back to my career.”
And BBC Radio Sheffield presenter Paulette Edwards, a judge on the Speak Out panel, has seen first had the impact of the project.
She said: “I feel as if we are actually preparing our young people for the world that they are going into and they are developing skills that they can really use and do something with.”
The project has been running for three years, and has made some long-lasting partnerships with businesses across the city. Participants have reported feeling more connected to their communities and aware of social problems and how to address them.
But in order to carry on they need more mentors from any organisation or sector to work with the young people and help them grow and develop.
If you think you can help see sheffield.ac.uk/speakout for more details.
Original Article by Jenna Sloan