The United Futures launch evening saw leaders from the business community come together to discuss how support for young people can be increased and improved.
Research has demonstrated 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' had no experience of employer engagement, compared with just 4% of those who had four or more contacts with business.
Ronan Dunne, CEO of 02 in the UK was among the attendees. "At Telefónica we have great passion and a proven track record in working with and championing young people and the organisations that support them," he said. "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."
Senior figures from other large corporates took part in the discussion with leaders of small organisations. "It is so important that small businesses are included in these initiatives," said Smarta founder Shaa Wasmund. "Small business has so much to offer, but we need to be able to clearly signpost how they can get involved. This isn't about charity; there is a huge upside for the businesses too."
Led by three charities - Business in the Community, the National Children's Bureau and UK Youth - the programme focuses on services that support young people outside school.
"If you consider that young people spend only 20% of their time at school it is easy to see why these services are so important," said Charlotte Hill, Chief executive of UK Youth. "We want to find out what the organisations that run them need from business and promote the business benefits of supporting local young people."
It was propsed that business could best support young people through a combination of giving expertise and financial support. But this is a mutually beneficial partnership. The benefits for business include an opportunity to develop staff skills, connect with future employees and improve brand value and reputation. Young people can offer fresh thinking, innovation and digital capabilities to businesses.
"Businesses already engage with young people in school, but there is more they can do outside education," said Dunne. "This event presents an exciting opportunity for us all to contribute our valuable insights and experience to inform the United Futures campaign."
United Futures will now assess what kind of support youth organisations need and what business can offer. Outreach events will then be held across the UK and online resources will be made available to continue building partnerships.
For more information about United Futures click here: www.twitter.com/united_futures.
Watch out for http://www.united-futures.org.uk/, which will be launching soon.