Young people leading the conversation on meaningful employment

by | Oct 1, 2020

Tell us a bit about you (e.g. your background, how old you are, where you’re from, your current status e.g. working not working, education background etc) 

I am a 25-year-old laugh-aholic and self-confessed Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream addict. I was born and raised in North London, and I am the Chief Executive of Tutors United. I founded this organisation while completing my A-levels after struggling to get into employment. Tutors United hires, trains, and pays university students and provides affordable tutoring to some of Planet Earth’s coolest primary school pupils who need that little extra boost of confidence to realise their full potential.  

Why did you apply to be a Board Director of the Youth Futures Foundation? 

I have the lived experience of a young person who has struggled to get into employment and transitioned into a social entrepreneur running an organisation that is creating jobs for young people. With my lived experience, understanding of the issue, and knowledge of the charity and social enterprise sector, I felt I had the necessary insight to help contribute to the aims of the foundation. Youth Futures Foundation is perfectly positioned to help tackle a problem I am passionate about.   

What lived experience do you have related to the issues that Youth Futures focuses on? 

After finishing my GCSEs in 2010 with As and A* and moving onto A-levels, my attempts to get a part-time job to help cover increased University fees fell flat as a result of not having ‘at least two year’s work experience’ – despite having high grades. Unfortunately, too many young people must ask themselves, ‘how am I going to get the experience if no one is going to give it to me?’ At the time, I was eligible for free school meals, and I needed to have a part-time income if I was to go to university, so I could help manage household expenses. While the job hurdles prevented me from going to university, it triggered me to create my own job, which resulted in Tutors United and job creation for over 250 other young people. 

What do you think needs to change to improve employment outcomes and opportunities for young people? 

I think too often in the youth sector, we try to work ‘on the young person,’ however, I find that little thought is put into the impact that other individuals can have on young people’s employment journey. While the transition from education to work is a considerable leap, managers and co-workers have the potential to make that journey valuable or disastrous. We need to create more of progressive culture in the UK that values, embraces and encourages the development of young people in our workforce. I believe once this shift is made among employers (whether large or small), managers, supervisors, and co-workers, it will be much easier for young people to access and stay in employment. These key stakeholders must recognise the value of young people’s potential rather than viewing the initial upskilling and training period to be a hindrance to their business. 

Why do you think it is important that young people are represented on boards and beyond? 

While age may bring added wisdom, it does not define competence. If you want to solve young people’s issues, ensure they have a seat at the table to discuss the solutions with you. Things are very different when you’re looking from the ‘outside-in.’ *Drops mic* 

What excites you most about joining the board of Directors of the Youth Futures Foundation? 

I think most of the problems surrounding youth unemployment are systemic issues. The sector can unite and deliver countless interventions, programmes and one-to-one’s with young people; however, if we do not attempt to change the system and external environment, which young people must manoeuvre around, then the problem will persist. I think Youth Futures Foundation is well-positioned to support and scale frontline delivery organisations holistically, evaluate proven delivery models and use the key findings to influence systemic change so we can hopefully see those youth unemployment statistics decrease for good. That makes me want to do backflips! 

“I think most of the problems surrounding youth unemployment are systemic issues. The sector can unite and deliver countless interventions, programmes and one-to-one’s with young people; however, if we do not attempt to change the system and external environment, which young people must manoeuvre around, then the problem will persist.” – Joel