Business leaders unite behind getting more young people into work following Seeing is Believing visit
Business in the Community, The Prince’s Responsible Business Network, has today, under the leadership of Tara Foley, CEO of AXA UK & Ireland, brought C-suite business leaders to communities in London to understand the challenges facing young people looking for work. The visit, part of BITC’s flagship Seeing is Believing programme, helps business leaders understand the role they play in addressing societal issues while also reaping the benefits of doing so.
As part of the visit, senior business leaders met with job seekers at Job Centre Plus in Lewisham to understand the barriers facing young people in finding employment. The visit comes as one in 10 young people in London are not in employment, education or training (NEET), despite a record number of jobs available over the last two years. 
Business leaders also visited the Young Lewisham Project to meet with parents and young people who use the service. The Young Lewisham Project offers a wide range of vocational programmes to young people who may not be achieving in mainstream education, including motorbike mechanics and bicycle maintenance, woodwork, furniture restoration and upcycling, arts and crafts, gardening and allotment work and cooking. The project supports up to 200 young people each year.
Business leaders also met with apprentices in LDN Apprenticeships to hear about the barriers and supports needed to help people find the right apprenticeships. With research showing that over £3 billion of the apprenticeship levy has gone unspent,  the visit gave business leaders the opportunity to hear first-hand from young people about their experiences of finding and securing an apprenticeship and how employers can better support them.
As part of its work to support employers in hiring disadvantaged job seekers, including young people, BITC has developed an inclusive recruitment campaign to encourage employers to remove outdated recruitment practices. The campaign, Opening Doors, helps employers identify talent by focusing on essential skills needed for the job and using inclusive language in job descriptions. Since the campaign launched, over one million jobs have opened up to disadvantaged job seekers.
The visit was attended by C-suite business leaders from a range of companies, including AXA, Pinsent Masons LLP, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, AECOM, JLL, JP Morgan, Network Rail and more.
The Seeing is Believing programme, one of the most prestigious immersive experiences available for C-suite leaders, helps drive BITC’s Place programme, facilitating cross-sector collaboration to deliver long-term and transformational impact in places across the UK.
Tara Foley, CEO of AXA UK & Ireland, said:
“Leading a Seeing is Believing visit gave me critical insight into how difficult it is for some young people to gain and stay in employment. To hear first-hand the barriers facing young people when they just want to get on in life, further reiterated the importance of collective action by business leaders to break down these barriers. We have heard the issues, so now, with BITC, we need to put our heads together to take stock of what we heard and develop a plan that all businesses can get behind to better support young people enter the world of work.”
Mary Macleod, Chief Executive of Business in the Community, said:
“Even in a big city like London, people face challenges trying to find good work, particularly those entering the workforce for the first time. AXA’s leadership today has been critical in getting business leaders united behind the changes needed to give the youth of today an opportunity to reach their full potential. BITC is on a mission to transform lives and help communities thrive through business action, and it’s clear from today’s visit to London that business leaders are right beside us on this objective.”
The Seeing is Believing programme was established by the then Prince of Wales in 1990. The programme, supported by Salesforce, was born from a simple but powerful belief that the best way to close the gap between the boardroom and the community was to take business leaders out to the communities and, through the power of experiential learning, to inspire and challenge participants. The visits are designed to encourage business leaders to think strategically about the implications for their own businesses and the practical actions that can be taken in response, leading to meaningful and sustained impact for both businesses and communities. To date, over 25,000 business leaders have taken part in the Seeing is Believing programme which has led to various initiatives being set up including Career Ready, Ban the Box and mentoring circles in collaboration with the Department for Work and Pensions.
Notes to editor
- Photos of the visit are available upon request.
- NEET levels 16- to 24-year-olds – https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/neet-statistics-annual-brief/2022
- Find out more about the Young Lewisham Project here.
- Find out more about LDN Apprenticeships here.
- The Progressive Policy Think Tank – Over £3 billion in unspent apprenticeship levy lost to Treasury ‘black hole’ new data reveal | IPPR
For further information, please contact Aoife Butler Nolan, Head of Media, Public Affairs and Policy on 07702 903 216.