“Young people’s self-belief is at an all-time low” reads the opening statement of the Youth Voice Census Report 2022.
This paints quite the picture of the contents of the report in which over 4000 young people aged 11-30 shared their thoughts and feelings on mental health, education and employment.
Young people are at the heart of what we do at Digital Innovators. In response to this shocking report, we wanted to share the DI approach to inspiring young people during a time of such uncertainty and anxiety.
The key areas of concern
The overarching factors which are negatively impacting young people in the UK are a lack of self-belief, a lack of opportunities and a lack of work experience.
Not only have these factors impacted young people’s progression into employment, but they have also led to a state of deteriorating mental health amongst young people – both of which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
How do young people in Birmingham feel?
Among the young people surveyed for this census were a group from Birmingham who shared their thoughts about where they live.
Whilst the group were positive about diversity of their city and that it is an exciting place to live, they also acknowledged the prevalence of income inequality, deprivation, and disparity of opportunities across the city.
The provision of higher education is strong across the city with a range of leading universities, however, among the group were concerns about the financial implications of continuing education “whilst trying to afford a place to live and other bills.”
Additionally, “those most recently out of secondary education feel that school provided little advice or guidance around careers and identified a lack of work experience whilst at school as a problem.”
If financial concerns and lack of careers guidance weren’t enough to leave these young people feeling disheartened, the consensus among them was the opportunities that are actually available in the city “are not for them.”
“There is a clear disconnect between the opportunities they can see around them and the confidence they have in their own experience and skills to access them.”
A hub of opportunity for all
Birmingham was recently named one of the UK’s first super-diverse cities with 51% of the population being people of colour.
In this hub of opportunity, it is unacceptable that young people feel that the opportunities around them aren’t accessible to them.
Where lack of provisions of work experience and careers advice has led to a deficit of self-esteem, it is evident that we need to improve provisions of personal and professional development in young people.
If young people are not able to see themselves in the opportunities available to them, it is because they are not being represented enough in those spaces or being given the confidence to see themselves in that space.
The DI Approach
So, how can we make young people feel more positively about their futures and give them the tools they need to build their self-esteem, develop their skills and pursue the career they want?
At Digital Innovators we help young people to unlock their potential by developing their skills and confidence and providing them with tangible, valuable work experience. This is done through the Digital Innovators Skills Programme.
Our programme combines specialised training of the skills needed to succeed in the workplace alongside a live business project with leading employers.
Whilst on the programme, participants also have access to 1-1 mentoring, networking opportunities, exposure to their industry of interest, guidance on post-education routes such as apprenticeships and more.
In a recent survey we asked our current cohort of students what they felt they were getting out of the DI Skills Programme, to which 54% responded with confidence.
Other responses included work experience, communications skills, and team work.
Collaboration is key
The work we do at Digital Innovators thrives on a community of collaboration.
It is evident that collaboration between educators, employers, community organisations, and local government is essential to inspire young people amid this mental health crisis.
In the summary of the Youth Voice Census, CEO of Youth Employment UK, Laura-Jane Rawlings, states:
“They say it takes a village to raise a child. This must also mean a village can fail a child. We are all the village, and it’s time to choose our roles.”
So, what role will you choose?
Digital Innovators is on a mission to bridge the gap between education and employment.
Organisations interested in collaborating to inspire young people and provide opportunities for their development should get in touch.
We are actively looking for mentors, area specialists, and speakers to engage with our cohorts of students.