BLOG BY SAM OLSEN
Each year, Movement to Work hosts its annual CEO Summit, bringing together senior leaders from business, youth outreach, government and young people, to discuss the most pertinent issues of the day related to youth unemployment. The last CEO summit was held at a point in time when youth unemployment was at a historic low and yet, just a year on, our Summit in February 2021 responded to a radically different context that we never could have foreseen:
- Young people account for 46% of the overall fall in employment
- Young people are bearing the brunt of lockdown – 47% of people furloughed are aged under 24
- Almost 200,000 young people who are out of work have been unemployed for over six months
- The unprecedented disturbance to young people’s education and the trauma of having their social lives disrupted at vulnerable ages
Given the challenges posed by COVID-19, we hosted the event for the first time online but we were encouraged by the participation and enthusiasm across our network.
We were inspired by the stories of young people who spoke boldly about their lived experiences, and the dedication shown by our key speakers and special guests:
- Olly Benzecry, Chairman Accenture UKI and MtW Chair
- Sacha Berendji, Retail, Operations & Property Director, M&S
- Seb Munden, Executive VP & GM U&I, Unilever
- Liz Williams, CEO, Futuredotnow
- Mims Davies MP, Minister for Employment (DWP)
- Jack Parsons – UK’s Chief Youth Officer and Award-winning young entrepreneur and CEO of The Youth Group
- Sam Meakings, Job Coach at the Department for Work and Pensions andMtW Youth Ambassador
- June Sarpong OBE, British television broadcaster and presenter (Event MC)
- Sanjeev Bhaskar OBE, award-winning comedian, actor and television presenter
- Russell Kane, multi-award-winning comedian and presenter
We also took this opportunity to celebrate a big milestone for the charity – achieving over 100,000 youth work placements to date. However, this celebration was swiftly met with the call to achieve our next 100,000 faster and stronger than ever before. Young people are facing the toughest circumstances we’ve ever seen, and so we must rally together to affirm positive action before it is too late.
I took away three key things from this year’s event:
We must see youth employability as a key way to bring true sustainability to life in our organisations – bringing in diverse talent and meaningfully engaging with our communities to bring about social mobility and an economy that works for everyone.
We must not rush to think that young people – the so-called ‘digital natives’ – are as tech-savvy as we may think they are. We need to continue to navigate the digital world remembering that not all young people have the access to tech and data, not all young people have the appropriate skills-set, and to be mindful that a digital world is not always the best place to foster positive experiences for our young people.
If we continue to recruit in the same way, we will continue to get the same results. I call on employers to quickly adapt, to stop recruiting for ’perfection’ and to recruit for potential – and – be prepared to develop it. We have to see beyond the classic markers of employability such as strong GCSEs and a well-written C.V. and re-think our strategy so we can cast the net even wider.
The media still talks about the risk of the lost generation – if we act now, boldly, this needn’t be the fate of our young people. We can do something about it. As leaders, we have a responsibility to be part of the solution and not the problem. Let’s not forget the young people who were already furthest from the workplace, and how COVID-19 has pushed them even further out. We believe that if we continue to have those young people in our hearts and minds as we move forward, our businesses will be stronger and the world will become a fairer place to be.
I hope you enjoy reading the report, and as ever, please do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of the team should you require any assistance.
You can read the full report HERE: MtW CEO Summit 2021 FULL REPORT
Sam Olsen is CEO of Movement to Work