Martha Crawford, Operations Manager for the Good Jobs Campaign, is responsible for managing the training programmes that we run with employer and education institution partners. Since joining Citizens UK in November 2015, Martha has worked hard to oversee the direction of the Good Jobs Campaign from its early stages.
Could you please tell me about yourself, your pathway and role at Citizens UK?
My name is Martha Crawford - I am the Campaign and Operations Manager for the Good Jobs Campaign at Citizens UK. My role is to manage the training programmes that we run with employer and education institution partners. I am overseeing the direction of the campaign strategically as it goes from being an early campaign into something larger and more sustainable. Before this job, I was a Business Development Manager at London South Bank University which I enjoyed and learnt a great amount from. I took this role because I have always felt that I wanted to do something which made impact – particularly for young people. I feel like young people are a marginalised group and often their voices are not being heard and needs not being met.
Why did you choose to work on the Good Jobs Campaign?
I did a placement for my Masters with Hackney Citizens (part of Citizens UK), which is where I came in contact with the Hackney 100 work experience programme and the work. I was really struck with the impact the organisation made and the way it made that impact. When the job opportunity came up it seemed like a good opportunity to marry my previous experience with my interest in working with young people. My mum is a big influence in my life and she taught all of us the importance of doing good – that has been an ethos that stayed with me. Like most people, I want to make my Mum proud of me. My youngest brother went to university at a time when he shouldn’t have and struggled with the structure and way of learning. This was a huge learning for me - this obsession that we have with higher education as the only way that young people can transform their lives is wrong and what we should be doing is creating high quality alternatives for young people such as the training programmes of the Good Jobs Campaign.
What is the most challenging about your job + what is the best thing about your job?
The most challenging thing about my job is probably the fact that I have come from a big bureaucratic institution where there were a lot of different functions to take pieces of work and when you come to a smaller organisation which is much leaner you have to do a lot more and pitch-in. I also find that very exciting. I am one of these people that needs to be constantly learning in my work in order to feel engaged with it and feel connected to it. Here no one day is the same. While that is very exciting, things always come up and I have to deal with them because we are a small team and decisions have to be made. The best thing about my job is seeing the journeys that young people go on across the programmes – from meeting them at the recruitment sessions and first employability skills sessions to who they are once they are at the end of the training opportunities with the businesses that we work with. That brings me hope for where we are going.
What is a Good Job to you?
A good job to me is challenging. Having different things that you have to unpick. It has to be meaningful. I have to see what the impact of my work is and why it is important. A learning curve within any job is important - one of the best things about working at Citizens UK is they take organising very seriously and we engage with that in our work. I like working in an organisation that allows space for that kind of learning within it. A good job is also about the kind of people that you get to work with – I do not think I have ever worked in a place with so many inspiring and dedicated people as at Citizens UK and I get a huge amount from being around people like that.
How important are initiatives like the Good Jobs Campaign for young people in London?
I think they are hugely important for two reasons. Employers are more reluctant to employ and train young people than ever before. There has been a 50% decline in employer-led training for young people in the last 15 years. Initiatives like the Good Jobs Campaign are really important because we work alongside businesses who want to go the extra mile to tackling the lack of high quality training opportunities for young people. The collaboration between our partners and availability of high quality, end-of-training opportunities are something that is quite unique. Young people get a lot of career talks and office visits but what they do not get is high quality opportunities and a pathway to get there. Secondly, young people have a bit of a hard task ahead of them. Employers are more likely to expect them to be work ready after leaving university, school or college despite being less willing to be involved in their training. The Good Jobs programmes are really important because they act a place where the penny can drop for students. It is not about working with students when they are work ready. It is about being that moment for them, where they learn about the workplace and the skills that they need in order to be someone who contributes to the organisation that they join.
How does your job impact your personal development?
Every day I learn something - no day is the same - and all of this contributes to my personal development. I am someone who responds hugely well to be given new things to do and trying to find the solution to them.
What advice would you give to young people thinking about participating in the Good Jobs Campaign?
I did a Drama undergraduate degree and I thought - right up until my second year - that I wanted to be a drama teacher. I was really set on that from a very early age. I did some work experience in that area, I worked in pupil referral units and secure units for young people with behavioural difficulties. That experience taught me such a huge amount but it became clear that teaching was not the right route for me. So taking things and trying them, being flexible about what you think is going to help you. Be open to being to be changed as a person through any work experience. Giving things a go that spark your interest a little bit.