At National Schools Partnership we understand the benefits that businesses and young people gain from working together.
Through their work with children and teenagers our clients have reported statistics such as a 50% improvement in attitudes towards marine conservation, a 24:1 ROI on a retailer sales promotion, and a 16% increase in the perception of the company as industry experts. And in the meantime participating children and young people have had the opportunity to experience new things, develop their skills, and have fun through learning.
For this article we asked UK Youth, a national charity devoted to developing and promoting non-formal learning opportunities, to expand on the ways in which business and youth partnerships can be mutually beneficial for companies thinking about supporting the sector.
This is what they told us:
“In January 2012, along with Business in the Community and the National Children’s Bureau, we launched a programme called United Futures, which aimed to make it easier for the world of business and the youth sector to forge links.
“We wanted to demonstrate the value of business supporting local youth clubs and projects and our research revealed that while many national charities have some experience of working with business, local youth organisations were in need of information and support.
“We developed a ‘call to action’ to highlight the clear business benefits of supporting the youth sector.
“These were identified as:
1. Developing existing workforce – engaging staff through volunteering, mentoring and the gift of pro-bono expertise
2. Developing future workforce – as young people are the employees of tomorrow
3. Increasing brand value and reputation – building trust and brand warmth as companies are recognised for their local community engagement
4. Improving relationships with the local community – raising the profile of a company at a local level
5. Financial or operational gains – accessing the creativity and ideas of young people, especially in the digital sphere
“The development of the call to action was followed by a series of regional networking events for businesses and youth organisations. Around 50% of event attendees reported that this opportunity had enabled them to meet someone they were interested in working with.
“One successful partnership established as a result of United Futures is between the Royal Mail and Young Devon in Plymouth. The two organisations have started a scheme where young people can access work-based training and work experience at the Royal Mail’s Data Entry Centre. To date, six young people have completed the training programme and two young people have been taken on as paid agency staff. In turn, Young Devon is training Royal Mail staff in how to work with vulnerable young people.”
This example and many more show that whilst it remains a tough time to be a young person with a considerable proportion of 16-24 year olds without a job and youth organisations in need of on-going support, there are real opportunities for businesses and youth organisations or schools to work together for sustained mutual benefit.
The interaction of business with young people really cannot be underestimated as it can be crucial in determining future aspirations and opportunities for school pupils and for young people outside of the education environment. A 2011 UK study found that 26% of NEET young people have had no contact with business. This falls to just 4% when they engage with an employer on four or more occasions – proof of the social impact of these partnerships.
By Kate Briggs, Sales & Marketing Manager, National Schools Partnership, and Lucy Allen, Communications Officer, UK Youth