By Yamin Chowdhury
As someone who is passionate about social mobility and diversity and inclusion, the opportunity to become a peer researcher was one that greatly excited me. The project Learning and Work Institute (L&W) conducted on behalf of the EY Foundation (EY) explored the impact of COVID-19 on the delivery of two of EY’s employability programmes, Smart Futures and Our Future. One of my main aims in becoming a peer researcher was to not only develop and strengthen my skills, but to also help improve the delivery of future programmes to improve young people’s employment prospects.
Growing up in Newham and having identified from a young age that there were barriers in my development to reaching my full potential – surrounded by poverty and having restricted access to different opportunities, I have had a vision since the age of 17 to widen access to young people from ethnic minorities and disadvantaged backgrounds. EY had given me my first ever work experience, which was quite frankly, life changing. In turn, I hoped that through becoming a peer researcher, I could help identify and assess potential barriers young people face and from this, create ideas to implement more effective systems in EY’s future programmes.
From the incredible training delivered by L&W, to leading focus groups with young people, to speaking at a Youth Summit explaining the findings of the 9 month project, I have learned a lot from L&W. On a personal level, I was proud of myself for speaking out at the Youth Summit regarding the implementation of hybrid systems for future delivery and the increased emphasis on IT literacy to make young people feel more confident for the future world of work. Throughout this project, I developed the confidence to speak in unfamiliar situations and I was able to strengthen my leadership qualities in controlling and navigating conversations in the focus groups. The skills I learned over the 9 months are skills that’ll stay for me for the rest of my career.
I’d like to thank the EY Foundation and L&W, once again, for this amazing opportunity – it’s been an absolute pleasure.