Two Watford teenagers have positive stories to share to mark the United Nations’ World Youth Skills Day on Saturday 15th July. For Katie (17 years’ old) and Maija (17 years’ old), their lives are being transformed through access to key employment skills.

After a difficult start in life, both girls are now supported by Hightown’s Young People’s Housing Service in Watford, which provides accommodation and support for young people aged 16 – 25.

Hightown staff help young people make informed choices and develop the skills needed to live independently, providing guidance on how to access education and employment opportunities.

Katie, 17 years’ old

Katie lives in Hightown’s Young People’s hostel in Watford after having to leave her family home and becoming homeless. Hightown’s staff provided practical support, calling to make appointments for Katie and helping her to get onto a course at Youth Connexions. Currently working on the Pathways to Success course, which includes two weeks of work experience at a nursery, Katie hopes to become a nursery teacher or support worker. Katie said:

“I’ve built up my confidence in interviews and learnt how to write a CV properly. People at Hightown really helped give me the motivation to get into working. Without their help, I would never have found out about the courses and opportunities.”

Maija, 17 years’ old

Originally from Latvia, Maija moved to the UK when she was six. After a difficult upbringing, Maija lived with a family friend before being referred to social services.

Maija is grateful to Hightown for providing a safe and nurturing environment that has allowed her skills to flourish. An avid horse lover, Maija is currently studying Level 2 Equine studies. She intends to go on to take Level 3 and then hopes to go to the Royal Veterinary Collage to become a Horse Vet Nurse.  Maija said:

“Without the support of staff at Hightown, I don’t think I’d be able to cope. They let me use their computers if I need to research anything for my college work. They’ve helped me so much and I’m very thankful for that.”

World Youth Skills Day promotes international awareness and prompt action on the skills shortage that leads to unemployment, labour market inequalities and longer and more insecure school to work transitions.