Norfolk’s young people to be targeted in “home first” programme

Nigel Cushion from nelsonspirit with his intern James Maas.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Nigel Cushion from nelsonspirit with his intern James Maas.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Norfolk's business leaders have rallied around a programme for the region's young people to try 'home first' when seeking their first job.

Ali Clabburn, founder of Liftshare, the UK's largest ride-sharing network in his office in Norwich.

Ali Clabburn, founder of Liftshare, the UK's largest ride-sharing network in his office in Norwich. Picture by Alban Donohoe Sunday Telegraph's business pages - Credit: Copyright Albanpix.com,

Whereas many high quality roles were once in London, the region's economy now includes nationally-leading companies and can offer a first foothold for many of the region's school leavers who so often do not stay.

That is the message from Nigel Cushion, managing director of networking and leadership enterprise Nelsonspirit, who has taken on two interns so far and is launching a programme to bring more 'high potential' young people to its 25 members.

'Historically, one problem has been that people have had to go away from Norfolk to get high quality job experience,' said Mr Cushion. 'But it's changing, especially because of the internet and new technology. Norfolk has grown some world-leading companies. The supply side is there for young people now.'

His internship programme, Home First, has developed business management skills alongside personal mentoring in the two graduates to go through it at Nelsonspirit so far.

Indigo Swan. Left to right, Aimee Konieczny, Emily Groves, James Wortley and Rae Harris. Picture: AN

Indigo Swan. Left to right, Aimee Konieczny, Emily Groves, James Wortley and Rae Harris. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant


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But growing interest from Norfolk's chief executives and managing directors means Home First is aiming to branch out to companies across the region – and not necessarily just with UEA graduates, said Mr Cushion.

'We have no problem keeping graduates from the University of East Anglia [UEA],' said Mr Cushion. 'It's the school leavers who go to universities that are not the UEA, whether it's Edinburgh, Durham or Newcastle, who afterwards often look to London. We're looking for the highest performing young people from Norfolk to work with the highest-quality companies in Norfolk.'

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Among those wanting to get involved in the programme are Murray Graham, partner at Lovewell Blake, Ali Clabburn, founder of Liftshare, Emily Groves, founder of Indigo Swan and Amanda Pead, managing director at P T Organics - all members of Nelsonspirit, which is comprised of leaders in businesses and charities across the region.

And it's this calibre of business acumen that one of Home First's graduates, James Maas, has been working with in his three-part role as an intern with the organisation.

'It's been quite a varied role – no two days are the same. I'm Nigel's executive assistant, I project manage the business setting up events and running social media, and I do investment analysis for his role as a chairman of different companies,' said the 22-year-old, who has a degree in business management. 'It keeps me on my toes and it means I'm not pigeon-holed for my next role.'

Originally from London, Mr Maas moved to Loddon in Norfolk 12 years ago before studying at the UEA, and wanted to remain in the area on graduating.

'I really wanted to give it a try locally,' he said. 'The size of the business means that I can see my development and the value of our work happen really quickly.'

Home First's other graduate, Claire Heason, was a Sheffield university graduate who went on to a leading national graduate programme at Ocado, one of the UK's largest online food retailers.

Is your company running internships or apprenticeships with young people? Contact business writer Jess Staufenberg on 01603772531 or email jessica.staufenberg@archant.co.uk

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