Q + A with Paul Ruddick, REDS10
We caught up with Paul Ruddick, Managing Director at REDS10, at Responsible Business Week on Tuesday to find out more about the company and its social impact. REDS10 are a social enterprise we’ve been working with who help young people into apprenticeship schemes.
What do REDS10 do?
REDS10 are an apprenticeship training agency. We help contractors and developers in construction employ local people from the area where they’re building into an apprenticeship. We do that by working with the main contractor, helping them embed it within the procurement of their subcontractors. So talking simplistically, if a large contractor is building a housing development in Hackney, we make sure local people get an apprenticeship on the development site.
What kind of background do the people you place come from?
Most are long term unemployed or they may have gone to college but didn’t have any construction work to complete their apprenticeship. We have ex-gang members and people who didn’t finish school, so it’s basically the unemployed youth of London. A lot come from disadvantaged backgrounds so really we are taking people who haven’t had the greatest of starts in life and giving them opportunities. That’s where the social impact comes in.
How do they find out about Reds10?
We’ve got a number of different outreach methods: we place adverts, have a website they can apply on, work with local job centres, housing associations and sports clubs. We’re really trying to get to the young people of an area who need the opportunity.
Is it right to assume that the number of people who need something like this is quite high?
It is a well published fact that unemployment for young 16-24 year olds is over 1 million, so yes. We are employing people and training them up so at the end of it they can go into a long term sustainable employment. We want to break the low-pay no-pay cycle in youngsters.
What are your core beliefs as a social enterprise?
As a social enterprise we want to give young, disadvantaged residents of London the opportunity to do an apprenticeship. So our actual pure business model is that it has social impact within it. It’s not a tag on to the business, or thinking ‘we’ll make X amount of money and then re invest it.’ Our whole business model is about social impact, so our core belief is that the more efficient we are, the bigger the social impact.
In your opinion what is the importance of apprenticeship schemes?
People need to get trained up - there seems to be a lot of disconnect when young people go for a job. I trained as Chartered Quantity Surveyor which took me four years to do. I will always have that skill and I still use it every day after 14 years. So I think any young person needs an apprenticeship or trade, whether it’s called an ‘apprenticeship’ or ‘internship’, or ‘training on the job’. A qualification is a badge of quality.
Are these qualifications hard to gain for someone who comes from a disadvantage background where courses are too expensive, or are from an area where a place on a course is hard to come by?
I think what has happened in the past is a lot of courses do not have a job at the end. We flip it around and have a job to start with, then we’ll get the person, enroll them into college and take care of that. Apprenticeships are industry relevant, whereas a lot of college course aren’t.
How many apprentices have you placed?
Since we started three and a half years ago we have placed over 300 people. We currently have 170 on our books. I’m pretty happy with that as I feel without our intervention, these 300+ people wouldn’t have gone on an apprenticeship. It’s having a big social impact.
How have BITC helped REDS10?
They’ve helped me in a number of ways. The first thing is through their arc programme they have connected us with a couple of businesses, the primary one being BP. Also, events like Responsible Business Week allows me to speak to large companies. It gives me a chance to spread the word and as a result of my speech today I have made 3 great contacts that I’ve been trying to get to over the last 3 years who actually approached me. So overall it’s about the business advice and contacts which help us progress.
How much value has BP’s involvement added?
BP have provided a business advisor to the senior team which has been invaluable. The support BP have given us in terms of HR strategy for growth has been important. Sometimes we are in the muck and bullets in terms of growing a company, and you can’t see the woods for the trees so having someone to talk to who has experience in growing teams internationally has really helped. The support is ongoing and there has been a big impact so far.
What would you say are the benefits for big business to become involved in social enterprise?
Big businesses employ lots of people and the people in the business may need a little something more in their day to day job to feel like they have contributed to society. Access to a social enterprise where they can give their expertise can really help to boost job satisfaction. As explained in my talk, some big businesses can’t contract directly with an SME because they are just too big, but they can offer helpful expertise and advice.