At City Gateway we are about to celebrate our 25th anniversary, and as I reflect on the past 25 years, I am amazed, proud and inspired by what we have achieved and the difference we have made in the lives of young people.

Diane Betts is CEO of education charity City Gateway. In this blog post she reflects on her recent CET David Coughtrie Leadership Award and why the work of City Gateway is essential in helping young people confidently enter the world of work with all the skills and knowledge they need to succeed.

“With a vision built on the firm belief that a person’s future should not be defined by the past or the place they start, and with a mission to serve people in communities most impacted by social and economic inequality, we deliver programmes that enable young people to get the qualifications, skills and experiences they need to secure a job, apprenticeship or to go on to further education. ”

City Gateway provides functional skills level 2 qualifications in English and maths, but these are only part of the puzzle. It is also vital that young people have what the CET call Commercial Ability, that is essential employability skills and access to experiences in the workplace. That’s why we work with a range of strategic corporate partners, employers and mentors, who provide opportunities including workshops, employer visits and experiences within the workplace.

City Gateway also recognises the wider support they may need to overcome the barriers and hurdles they have faced in their young lives, and so we provide a wraparound coaching model that helps them to develop essential personal capabilities such as confidence, resilience and self-awareness.

What we do works. We help young people get their qualifications – in 2022/23 we achieved a 56% pass rate in English and 65% pass rate in maths where typically one third start at the level equivalent to the second stage of primary school. We help young people secure a positive outcome – in 2022/23 our achievement rate was 81.4%, up from 9% in 2019/20. We help young people succeed – 100% of our apprentices passed their apprenticeship, with 75% achieving a distinction.

To be acknowledged for the small part I have played in this success by receiving my leadership award from CET was an honour but also extremely humbling, for it is really the young people who are to be celebrated. Despite the challenges life has thrown at them, they demonstrate such inspiring determination to turn their lives around and change their future.

We are seeing more and more young people needing the support we provide. We have already seen a 35% increase in demand in just four months at the start of this academic year. And we know this demand is continuing to grow.

I am delighted to receive the recognition of this award, but I can’t do it alone. For anyone who is interested in partnering with City Gateway and helping provide workshops, work experience or mentor support, please do get in touch at partnership@citygateway.org.uk.