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Skill Up Step Up campaign: ‘I knocked on that door… so can you’

Investment analyst Reggie Nelson backs more mentoring for youngsters hit by the pandemic

<p>Reggie Nelson in Kensington</p>

Reggie Nelson in Kensington

/ Evening Standard
By
20 December 2021
R

eggie Nelson, the investment analyst and BBC podcaster from east London, has backed our appeal to upskill jobless young people and get them into work, calling it “especially needed” because they have borne the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Before his rise to success, Reggie, 26, dreamt of becoming a footballer. His contingency plan was to work as a postman. Growing up in an economically deprived area, he said a lack of visible career options left him and his peers with limited aspirations.

“Everyone either becomes a footballer, a musician or a criminal — and when you’re younger you try all three,” he said.

“I tried the music — I was never good at music — and my mum was never going to let me be a criminal, so those two options were exhausted and football was the one thing I thought I had a talent at, so I thought, let me pursue it.”

But after losing his father at 17, Reggie felt he needed to provide for his family, and cast his football dreams aside.

Curious to find out how the rich amass their wealth, he went on a door-knocking expedition in Kensington and Chelsea, hitting the area’s most affluent streets.

This led him to the home of investment management expert Quintin Price, who was impressed by his get-up-and-go and invited him to an insight day at his firm, later setting up work experience and a mentor.

“I never aspired to be in finance until I knocked on that door,” Reggie said. “I knew nothing about investment banking or lawyers or marketing or advertising or that you could curate a lane for yourself.”

With Mr Price’s encouragement, Reggie set off to study economics with Mandarin at Kingston University in London. He now works at one of the City’s leading financial services firms and presents the Your Work, Your Money podcast for the BBC, providing business and money advice.

He said young people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds risk being left behind because they do not have the social capital to access mentors and sponsors in professional fields who could help harness their skills. As a result, many are not aware of the options available to them, have limited support to pursue their aspirations, and fall more easily into unemployment.

Reggie added that our campaign is “especially needed right now”, including for students who have suffered in the pandemic, which has kept companies away from on-campus events and workshops.

“Campaigns like this help people understand they’re not the only ones going through it because sometimes you feel, why me? When you realise that other people are navigating it too, that does give comfort. It also gives them a practical sense that if they want to achieve something, they can sign up and get into a field of their choice, be it finance, medical science or whatever it might be.”

Asked for advice for those struggling to find employment, Reggie urged young people to use the hard moments as motivation to keep going.

“The hardest moments create the best stories,” he said.

He added that there needs to be more traineeships for young people like those offered by City Gateway and Springboard in our campaign.

“Initiatives like these play a tremendous part in setting the building blocks for young people to elevate professionally.”