Youth participation is central to our work as an organisation. Embedding youth voice ensures we stay true to the principle of ‘nothing about us without us’. As part of this, members of our Future Voices Group have been supporting the delivery of our three strategic pillars: Invest, Ignite and Identify through their involvement in our sub-groups.
Future Voice Group members of our Invest sub-group (Subhan, Cindy, Naomi and Plamena) shared some reflections on their experience working on Youth Futures Foundation participation projects. They also made suggestions about what employers can do to embed youth voice into their work.
What are some of your highlights championing youth voice this year?
Subhan: “One of the most important pieces of work that was successful in initiating youth voice was one of the workshops we held a couple months back. I think the co-designing of it was one of our more active tasks. As opposed to perhaps just simply producing a piece of written work. Having seen the feedback from the workshop, the participants also found great benefit and that kind of independent youth aspect of it.”
Plamena: “I think having that kind of closeness with all the grantees felt very authentic. Because we were able to co-design and co-facilitate, we had so much impact on the topics that were being talked about. And the way that it was really a space for them to share with each other and how they worked in slightly different ways.”
Cindy: “I think if grantees or people listening to this have the opportunity to give young people a chance to have ownership over something, it’s not only a really good character-building experience, but it also can produce really good outcomes. I talked about my entrepreneurial insights because often grantees are focused on getting people into employment. However, some of the things that we figured out in Future Voices Group is that self-employment is an up-and-coming interest.”
Naomi: “I was given the opportunity to participate in some research that Youth Futures Foundation was conducting alongside their research partner, Clearview. The task was to look into entrepreneurship for young people as a feasible option as a career. I feel like the research was really important. The workshops within that showed how young people are represented in entrepreneurship. My participation showed it is a feasible route for someone who is just leaving school and not just an option for those who are more established in their career.”
Top tips for employers:
- Automate the integration and inclusion of youth voice within your processes and decisions. Make it impossible not to have any youth voice options. Prioritise it and have accessible options with feedback elements.
- Have as many routes of entry into the organisation as possible. This could include work experience or internships, making as many options as possible to enter the industry.
- Whatever work you’re working on with young people, make it relevant to the demographic you’re trying to reach.
- Keep your approach flexible. With any youth voice work, ensure it is a constant discussion. Consistently keeping that feedback-discussion loop ongoing is important.
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