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How businesses can ensure our young people don’t become a forgotten generation

Posted: 22nd September 2020

Never in our lifetime have we experienced a year like 2020. And the scary thing is, we don’t know what is looming around the corner.

From political and economic uncertainty, to the stark reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no escaping the ‘new normal’.

Some have taken it in their stride, adapting to a new regime of home working and lockdown measures. But for many young people, each passing day, week and month is having a devastating effect on their prospects, health, and wellbeing.

We must identify the challenges on the horizon to ensure that our young people are supported and well-prepared so they can play an increasing role in our economy and society. We can ill-afford to leave any of them behind. We cannot let them become a forgotten generation.

As the employment and skills market continues to feel the brunt of the pandemic, young people have been unilaterally affected. Statistics show they have experienced the biggest fall in employment in the four months leading up to August, with 9.8% having lost their jobs completely.

It is certain that redundancies will continue and so it is understandable that fears amongst young people have never been higher. Over a quarter of 16 to 25-year-olds in Scotland believe their future career prospects have been damaged due to the coronavirus, while 52% say it will be harder than ever to get a job.

It should come as no surprise that these fears come at the detriment of young people’s mental wellbeing. The Prince’s Trust and YouGov report, Young People in Lockdown, shows how 43 per cent of young people across the UK feel their anxiety levels have increased as a result of the crisis, with 32 per cent saying they are “overwhelmed” by feelings of panic and anxiety every day.

As stresses and strains grow it is essential that we do all we can to tackle these challenges and ensure that our young people are equipped with the skills and support that  puts them in a position to make a positive impact in a post-COVID society.

The Prince’s Trust had to react quickly when lockdown was imposed – forging initiatives to ensure a generation – the future workforce – don’t lose hope or lower their aspirations.

Digital sessions, creative workshops and interactive gaming have all offered invaluable respite for young people during this traumatic time. However, despite the negativity, feelings of loneliness and anxiety, The Trust has found that our young people still have an insatiable appetite for business. Hundreds of young Scots have reached out to The Trust to gain the knowledge and skills needed to become their own boss. Entrepreneurial spirit in Scotland is still strong.

As put forward by Benny Higgins and Sandy Begbie’s Youth Guarantee for Scotland, the private sector has an essential role in enabling the upskilling of young people, offering them real opportunities for the long-term, regardless of whether normality is resumed or not.

As Chair of The Prince’s Trust Global Leadership Lunch, I have seen first-hand the enthusiasm and commitment from our corporate partners to get the world back on track. Front and centre is a real drive to propelling our young people to the forefront of the employment and skills discussion, increasing employability, and ultimately transforming lives.

Businesses must realise the role they have to play. If more organisations in Scotland support the mutually beneficial partnerships across business, education and government, we can ensure that all young people who need help receive it.

On Friday, 9th October, we are bringing business leaders together online to discuss the future of business as the world seeks to recover from the current crisis. Our free event, sponsored by Standard Life Aberdeen, will feature Unilever CEO Alan Jope, Dame Jayne-Anne Gadhia, Founder and Executive Chair of Snoop, and Kevin Sneader, Global Managing Partner at McKinsey & Company, on a panel chaired by BBC Scotland Editor, Sarah Smith.

The event will raise vital funds and raise awareness of the work The Prince’s Trust does with the support of the financial and business sector across Scotland. We would like more businesses to get involved so if you’re interested visit hopin.to/events/the-prince-s-trust-global-leadership-virtual-lunch or email Carly.thompson@princes-trust.org.uk

Chris Sibbald, Chair of the Global Leadership Lunch and Managing Director, Finsbury



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