“ Business already offers support to in-school activities but there is more it can do outside formal education. United Futures will help us as a business community to achieve this and I truly believe we have to work in collaboration to make a difference ”
“At Telefónica we have a great passion and proven track record in working with and championing young people and the organisations that support them. There is a real, current social need for other businesses to do the same, as young people in the UK suffer under the strain of these tough economic times.” Ronan Dunne, CEO, O2 in the UK.
Senior figures from other corporates including Accenture, HSBC, Samsung, Linklaters and Visa also took part in the event as well as those representing smaller businesses. They were joined by youth sector leaders and young people who gave insight into how businesses can best get involved. All agreed that business has a vital role to play in supporting youth services.
The overwhelming majority of attendees felt that business could best support young people via a combination of giving expertise and financial support. The main business benefits to establishing youth sector partnerships were identified as the opportunity to develop staff skills, to connect with future employees and to improve brand value and reputation.
Discussions focussed on the need for partnerships to be sustainable and dynamic, whilst offering real work opportunities to young people that would otherwise be unavailable to them, such as meeting new people, visiting workplaces and learning life and business skills. There was further consensus on the fresh thinking, innovation and digital capabilities that young people can offer to businesses.
United Futures is being led by three charities (Business in the Community, The National Children’s Bureau and UK Youth) and the services that it is focusing on, support young people outside school. These are run by Local Authorities and the voluntary sector.
“If you consider that young people spend just 20% of their time at school it is easy to understand why these services are really important. Today has been about finding out what the organisations that run them need from businesses and likewise promoting the business benefits of supporting local young people.” Charlotte Hill, Chief Executive, UK Youth.
Research demonstrates a clear link between the amount of contact young people have with employers and their likelihood of finding work. Over a quarter (26%) of young people classified as ‘Not in employment, education or training’ (NEET) had no experience of employer engagement, compared with just 4% of those who had four or more contacts with business*.
The group leading United Futures will go on to assess what kind of support youth sector organisations need and also what businesses have to offer. Once this has been established outreach events will be held across England and online resources made available to help bring about new mutually beneficial partnerships.
Ronan Dunne further explained his involvement in United Futures by adding “Business already offers support to in-school activities but there is more it can do outside formal education. United Futures will help us as a business community to achieve this and I truly believe we have to work in collaboration to make a difference. This event presents an exciting opportunity for us all to contribute our valuable insights and experience to inform the United Futures campaign.”
Gennie Franklin, Employee Volunteering Director, Business in the Community, concluded “There’s a huge untapped opportunity for responsible businesses to make a real difference in the lives of young people by engaging with the youth sector. We’re delighted that so many businesses have joined us today to help take forward this initiative. Together we can create a society that is more positive for youth.”
* Employers & Education Task Force: ‘It’s Who You Meet’ Report (2011)
For more information about the event and the United Futures project contact
Notes to editors
The National Children's Bureau is a leading research and development charity working to improve the lives of children and young people, reducing the impact of inequalities. We work with children, for children to influence government policy, be a strong voice for young people and front-line professionals, and provide practical solutions on a range of social issues.
UK Youth enables young people from all backgrounds to realise their potential by offering them access to a wide range of highly engaging and appropriate learning opportunities. Through a national network of youth associations the charity reaches 750,000 young people each.