If Only: Transforming Opportunities for Young People

This report is Business in the Community’s (BITC) call to action for business, schools, families and government to transform opportunities for young people in the UK.

Skills are vital to business, key to career success for young people, and imperative for social mobility. Business and education must to come together to enable young people to build successful working lives. This is especially critical for the 4.1 million children living in poverty in the UK in 2017-18, 30 per cent of the total number of children in the UK1.

Skills are also vital to tackling the UK’s productivity gap. Almost half of the working population in England have only the basic numeracy skills expected of a primary school child, costing the UK economy £20bn a year2. It has also been estimated that the UK GDP could be £32bn higher by 2025 if action had been taken to ensure all children were reading well by the age of 113

BITC’s call to action to business:

– Run activities that help young people develop skills through partnering with schools. For example through BITC’s Business Class programme.

– Use a common language on skills so that young people, teachers and employers can work together to prepare young people for the future of work

– Share your own If Only story and your commitment to inspire others using #IfOnly on social media

Business in the Community is developing a
skilled and inclusive workforce for today and tomorrow


1. Households Below Average Income, Statistics on the number and percentage of people living in low income households for financial years 1994/95 to 2017/18, Tables 4a and 4b. Department for Work and Pensions, 2019. Take from Child Poverty Action Group; (no date); Child poverty facts and figures https://cpag.org.uk

2. The National Numeracy Trust, 2017. A New Approach to Making the UK Numerate; available at https://www.nationalnumeracy.org.uk

3. Poor reading ‘could cost UK £32bn in growth by 2025’ The Guardian Patrick Wintour, political editor Mon 8 Sep 2014 available at https://www.theguardian.com