The CIPD’s flagship employability mentoring programme, Steps Ahead Mentoring, has been rolled out to job seeking parents and carers across Britain, who wish to return to work. Originally launched as a pilot in 2012 to support young people (aged 18-24), Steps Ahead Mentoring matches CIPD volunteers with jobseekers, to support them with their employability skills, boost their confidence and help them get on the path to employment.

After a successful pilot for parent and carer returners the programme is being rolled out via jobcentres across Britain. As people professionals, volunteering CIPD members have unique insight into what employers are looking for and are well placed to support people back into work. 

Speaking about her experience, Jessica, a former mentee, who went on the find employment said: ‘The Steps Ahead programme just came to me right on time as I was so deflated from looking for work and not getting anywhere. Meeting my mentor, Sue was just what I needed at the time. Steps Ahead is brilliant for somebody in my age-bracket who’s been in work for a long time. You know you’ve got the kills and the abilities to do things, but you don’t know which way to go.’ As a result of the programme and the CV and interview advice she received from her mentor, Jessica went on to secure a role as an adult carer and was recently promoted to Quality Officer.

This announcement comes in the same week as National Mentoring Day (27 October), a day launched to celebrate mentoring with a key focus on recognising excellence and raising awareness on the significant benefits of mentoring. The theme for National Mentoring Day is ‘Mentoring Rocks’ which focuses on sharing experience and paying tribute to mentoring received or given. It encourages everyone to show their appreciation for mentoring and to recognise mentors who have made a difference.

Jobseekers are referred to Steps Ahead Mentoring via Jobcentre Plus and other referral partners across the country. Over 5,700 jobseekers have been engaged through the programme and 73% of mentees find employment on completing the programme. Mentoring typically takes place through face to face meetings but remote mentoring (via video conference, telephone and email) is increasingly becoming popular. In addition to the Steps Ahead Mentoring programme, CIPD member to member mentoring is run at a local level by many CIPD branches and is well-established in London. On these programmes the mentor and mentee work together to discover and develop the mentee’s abilities, knowledge and confidence supporting, their continual professional development and helping them reach their career goals as they progress in the people profession.

It’s important to recognise that mentors, as well as mentees, benefit from the mentoring experience. Not only is it rewarding to help someone into work or progress in their career, mentoring in a voluntary capacity is also an excellent way to develop professional communication and coaching skills. If you are a CIPD member you can find more information about how to sign up as either a Steps Ahead or branch mentor.

We are enormously proud of the mentoring CIPD members already do, whether they mentor through our programmes or within their own organisations. If you are a mentor, or have benefited from the support of a mentor, join us in sharing your experiences on @StepsAhead  #MentoringRocks. Find out more about mentoring at CIPD or contact

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