Talent RISE UK – the first steps

Andy & Shaun in Bristol

It’s hard to believe but I’ve now been working at Talent RISE for over two months. Shaun, our programme manager, and I have both been really busy. The time’s gone in the blink of an eye! It’s all really exciting and enjoyable though, so we certainly don’t have anything to complain about.

Why Talent RISE?

I have been working and volunteering for charities since 2005. I originally worked as a design engineer, but that all changed after I survived the 2004 tsunami in Thailand. As soon as my injuries healed, I went back to Thailand to volunteer and went on to set up a new disaster response charity in 2008. That charity has since raised almost £1 million and helped over 23,000 people, but flying off to Haiti, Nepal or the Philippines at a moment’s notice got harder the older I got. So, in 2017 I left that charity and moved into the UK youth sector.

This might seem like a strange transition, but the charity I set up used an inclusive model that welcomed everyone to volunteer after disasters. So, when I was offered a job with a UK charity that works to give all young people a chance to volunteer there was a real connection, despite the very different contexts.

In turn, that role gave me a great understanding of the UK youth sector and of the many challenges that young people in this country face every day. So, when the opportunity came up to join Talent RISE and support young people with barriers to employment I didn’t hesitate to take it.

Talent RISE was established in Australia in November 2014. Since then it’s expanded across the country and into New Zealand, and has already supported almost 100 young people into employment. It’s also helped inspire and upskill over 500 more via workshops, training session and taster events.

This track record and existing model is brilliant as they give us great foundations to build on here in the UK. However, there’s still loads we need to do to adapt Talent RISE to the market here. The needs of young people and employers are different, and so is the law governing how charities work.

Rise Manchester

Taking our first steps in the UK

So, Shaun and I have spent the last two months in a “discovery” phase. In this time we’ve spoken to over twenty youth organisations, some of whom will become our community partners and refer young people to Talent RISE. These conversations have given us some great insights and helped us to understand how Talent RISE can really add value rather than compete with existing youth employment efforts.

This is important because although there are currently around 800,000 young people not in education, employment or training this number has fallen dramatically since the crisis of 2011 when 1.25 million young people were in this position. So, many charities are already supporting youth employment in a saturated market, and it’s vital we find our own USP.

We’ve also begun reaching out to employers to ask if they can offer opportunities for young people to learn about their industry, gain work experience and ultimately offer entry-level jobs. This is where being embedded within Talent is really useful as we can reach out to its client base via the company’s recruitment consultants. However, to do this successfully we first need to win the consultants’ “Hearts & Minds”. So, we’ve spent time sitting down with all of the London team individually, and have run team sessions in the company’s regional offices too.

The other big job I’ve been working on is Talent RISE’s application to register as a charity. It’s a complicated process, but I’ve been through it before for my own charity, and we’re also fortunate to be getting pro-bono legal advice from Talent’s solicitors Clarke Willmott. We’ll be submitting our application very soon.

Setting up our first event

There’s still loads to do to get Talent RISE fully operational in the UK, but we’re making great progress and are really excited to have announced our first event called The RISE of a tech GirlForce.

This event, scheduled for November 21, will bring together twenty young women with barriers to employment, Talent’s female staff and external guest speakers. The staff and speakers will act as role models to the young women and give them information about both the opportunities and challenges involved when working as a woman in the tech sector. Look out for next month’s blog to learn more!


Andy Chaggar, Talent RISE UK Director