One in ten young people believe they will amount to nothing, no matter how hard they try
Two million young people in the UK aged between 16 and 24 spend more than 6 months not in work or education and more than one in ten of all young people (811,000) spend a year or more out of education or work.
Behind the numbers, there is a devastating and profound impact on young people’s lives. The trap of poverty, homelessness, abuse, crime, violence, vulnerability, shame, poor mental and physical health, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, gambling, debt and addiction puts young people at risk of becoming not just unemployed but unemployable. The vast majority of people who now sleep on the streets, are our young people. Not having the skills or means with which to earn their way out of poverty is both degrading and disempowering. Worse when these are young people who live in one of the richest economies in the world.
I find it beyond heart-breaking that one in ten young people believe they will amount to nothing, no matter how hard they try.
I believe young people are worth so much more than this and that it is our duty to empower the next generation of young people who, through no fault of their own find themselves unable to access good jobs.
We built OPERA to be a positive and practical response – mobilizing the collective time, skills, expertise and money that the recruitment and staffing industry has. Utilising these resources to develop solutions for as many young people as we can – one company, one recruiter and one young person at a time.
OPERA is the first global youth employment charity, built, backed and funded by the recruitment and staffing industry.
We do two things; our #thrive fund, in partnership with The Prince’s Trust, one of the UK’s leading youth charities, provides practical and financial support to young people who have successfully completed a Prince’s Trust programme. These are young people who have overcome some of the most traumatic and challenging backgrounds – who are then blocked from entering the workplace for something as simple as a suit, a pair of shoes or a birth certificate. Our supporters are busy raising funds to support 2,500 young people over the next 12 months.
We are working with our OPERA business members to pilot our Academy71 programme – a new employment pathway, in and through the recruitment industry. Over the next three years, our aim is to create at least 10,000 employment opportunities for significantly disadvantaged young people, traditionally excluded from the UK labour market.
We will shortly be announcing our US and Australian partners who are now working with us to develop the #thrive fund in their territories for their young people.
The question I am asked the most is why I do this. It’s a simple reason, I believe good jobs give young people the means with which to work their way out of poverty and to earn and own their future, at the same time making a positive impact on society. I was one of those young people – and I have had the privilege of working with and meeting young people who have faced unimaginable and traumatic experiences – but who given the right support, belief and an opportunity, grasp it with both hands. No matter how bright you are, someone, somewhere has to be willing to give you a chance and to support yourself.
We have this chance to go beyond corporate social responsibility and make a tangible, measurable difference to young people.
By working with OPERA and investing in young people, the recruitment and staffing industry is not only demonstrating a genuine commitment to making a transformational difference to young people’s lives, but at the same time addressing the increasing skills shortage and ensuring we are building a future skilled workforce which is good for young people, for the industry, for employers and for our communities.
OPERA receives no government funding. We are independent and entirely funded by the generosity and support of our Pioneers, Patrons and business members. This enables us to develop employment solutions that give both the young person and their employer the best possible chance of success – and over the next 12 months, directly employ four young people to work at OPERA.
Our impact measurement is the one that matters – of the young people we support – how many of them are still in work twelve months later. Through our #thrive fund in partnership with The Prince’s Trust, 86% of them will achieve this critical milestone giving them a greater chance of future success in the workplace.
On 14th September, OPERA is bringing together 70 recruitment and staffing business leaders at LinkedIn HQ London. We have come a long way in just 12 months, but we are now asking business leaders to join our Pioneers and Patrons – and the hundreds of individuals who work in recruitment and have supported us – to join us – and be part of the first industry wide movement comprehensively tackling youth unemployment in positive and practical ways.
To join us and find out more, please visit us at weareopera.org