Karren Brady is a women who means business and being the queen of business with a number of successful projects under her belt, she is also a motivational and public speaker, author, columnist and TV personality.
Karren is the ambassador for Barclays Life Skills which aims to help young people into work.
She chats to Female First about working with LifeSkills and the importance of supporting young people on the path to career success.
You are the ambassador for LifeSkills, created with Barclays. Could you tell us a little more about this?
There are currently over 850,000 young people out of work, which has a fundamental impact on our society and economy. I believe more needs to be done, which is why I got involved in LifeSkills, created with Barclays. It aims to help one million young people gain employability skills by 2015. It includes free resources for young people and schools, as well as a work experience matching engine so teachers can connect their pupils to opportunities to learn from businesses. With LifeSkills, businesses, young people, education providers are brought together to help young people make the transition successfully into work.
Why did you choose to get involved in this project?
I got involved in LifeSkills because, as a mother of two teenagers, I know first-hand the importance of supporting young people as they transition from school into the world of work and I also know how influential parents are to the success of a young person as they start out. Of all of my achievements, I’m most proud of being able to share my experience and give my children confidence for the future and I want to inspire other parents to feel they can do the same. Together, we need to support and enthuse young people about their future, while providing practical support, through programmes like LifeSkills, to develop the skills they need and gain valuable work experience.
LifeSkills also reaches out to businesses and teachers. Why is it important to have them involved?
Youth unemployment is a very complex problem and requires collaboration to achieve lasting change. We have to bring together businesses, education providers, government, families and of course young people to ensure they are prepared for work before they leave education. Teachers cannot be expected to know exactly what skills businesses are looking for. This is why businesses in particular have a vital role to play in connecting with schools to create work experience opportunities for young people to learn about the world of work. This will ensure the next generation of workers have the skills that businesses want and need.
How can LifeSkills help young people get a job?
LifeSkills is a curriculum-based education programme that provides resources for teachers and young people such as lessons and workshops and interactive modules directly via the LifeSkills website. It includes lots of handy tools and tips on everything from team work and CV writing to interview tactics and other interpersonal skills. It also addresses those issues we know employers are concerned about, such as how to behave in the workplace. Teachers can also find pupils work experience opportunities with local employers through the LifeSkills website matching portal.
How important is it to help the younger generation get on the employment ladder?
It’s incredibly important. The future of our society and economy rests on supporting the next generation into work. If we are to continue to grow as a country, we must ensure young people are able to fulfil their potential. It’s also vital that businesses are able to recruit from a diverse and skilled workforce so they too can thrive.
What advice would you give to women who want to set up their own business?
I applaud any woman who has the drive to want to set up her own business. When you start out, be clear about what you want to achieve and consider the risks. Do your research and take the time to discover what’s out there in the marketplace and where the opportunity exists for a new business. Make sure you then invest time in developing a thorough business plan and speak with people you know who are successful in business. Their advice and guidance will be invaluable. And most importantly, make sure it is something you are passionate about!
Do you think it’s important for more women to get into business/own their own business?
I believe we need more women in the most senior positions in business and greater recognition for those women who are successful entrepreneurs. We have come a long way over the years and although it’s been difficult in the past, things have and are continuing to get better. We need to all work together to keep pushing for change in the workplace.
Why do you think it’s still difficult for women to go it alone?
Some industries and companies are still very male dominated, so it can be challenging for woman to have the confidence to put themselves forward straight out of school. I think it’s so important for successful women to help those just starting their career: when I started at Birmingham City Football Club I was the only woman but when I left, three-quarters of my senior management team were women.
What advice would you give to a woman who has a family and a career?
You must accept that you can only be in one place at a time. When you’re at home, you need to focus on your family and when you’re at work that needs to be your main priority. I tend to have two personalities: my home one and my work one. It also helps to work with your partner or your family to share responsibility. My husband and I try to split everything between us. When the children were at school, he’d pick them up and then I’d look after them.
As you are a successful businesswomen, have you any secrets to being successful?
Unfortunately I don’t think there is any secret to success. You need to work hard, take chances and believe in yourself. Remember that a career lasts a lifetime so grab opportunities and persevere, even though you may not be immediately successful. We are all likely to work for at least 20 years so remember it’s important to take holidays and enjoy yourself.
For more information about LifeSkills, visit: https://www.barclayslifeskills.com/