// AO staff to mentor young people from disadvantaged backgrounds as part of an ambitious new scheme
// AO is one of 12 founders of FastFutures, a programme designed to increase employability for 18-22 year olds
// AO is providing opportunities in the north west for youth who may struggle to find their feet in a post-Covid job market
AO has become a member of a programme that will see its staff become mentors for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The Bolton-based online retailer is one of 12 founding partners of FastFutures, a development programme designed to increase employability for 18-22 year olds by providing them with the skills and experience needed to secure jobs in the digital sector.
For the next three months, 11 mentors from across AO will donate their time to offer both support and advice to their assigned young person.
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As the only north west headquartered employer participating in the programme, AO said it was providing “fresh opportunities” to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in the area, who may struggle to find their feet in a post-Covid job market.
Alongside the mentoring aspect of the programme, AO has committed to offering mock interviews with constructive feedback for 50 young people.
In the second phase of the programme, AO will also deliver a virtual “site visit” for the participants, giving them an exciting insight into life at AO and how the retailer uses data across the company.
Following the programme, AO said it hopes to consider the FastFutures participants for live vacancies at the business.
“I remember making my first steps into the world of work and it certainly wasn’t easy,” AO learning specialist James Warburton said.
“The uncertainty of the current job market is only going to add to the challenge of finding your first role.
“The FastFutures scheme will hopefully make it easier for the young people on the programme and I’m grateful for the opportunity to offer my support.”
AO operations director and Fast Futures mentor Simon Ryan said: “I signed up as a mentor because I believe it is important to recognise how lucky we are to be in a position to support young people.
“The programme will really help the participants gain the best possible skills that organisations want and set them up for a positive start on their employment journey.”
AO chief people officer Vic Rodgers said: “I’m so pleased that AO is taking a leading role in the FastFutures programme and helping to create opportunities for the young people who need them the most.
“Digital and business skills are more vital than ever in the current working climate and we’re proud to offer a helping hand on the employment ladder.”