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Youth social action young people toolkit To celebrate the launch of our Youth Social Action Toolkit, Steve Holliday discusses the importance of putting young people’s talents to work. 

Social action and volunteering can play a vital role in shaping the lives and opportunities of our nation’s young people. Our challenge as a society is removing barriers, easing the path for young people to get involved and make an impact.

The evidence is compelling. Young people’s involvement in social action helps develop life skills, job prospects and wellbeing.

What is also clear is that social action can help improve social mobility and social inclusion for young people from disadvantaged communities and those with more challenging backgrounds - helping to lift a left behind generation to be the next generation of leaders. 

Steve Holliday Board Member CEC
Steve Holliday

In 2017, I was asked by Government to lead a review on social action.  Our report set out a vision for social action in the UK and making a series of recommendations on how best to support and energise further progress in communities across the country.

I have seen personally how youth social action can benefit the development of and character in young people, giving them employability skills while making a real difference in their communities.  The challenge is to see how we can expand volunteering as a routine engagement opportunity for young people.

That’s why I’m delighted to welcome the new Youth Social Action Toolkit, designed to make it easier to join up social action with careers education in schools and colleges – one of the recommendations in my report.

The toolkit has been launched by The Careers & Enterprise Company and developed in partnership with #iwill and The Centre for Education & Youth.

Creating new opportunities and smoothing the pathways for young people to get involved in social action is a win-win for young people, business and communities.

Organisations benefit from the fresh perspective young people bring. Communities benefit when young people feel valued and involved and young people benefit through learning and building their skills, confidence and expanding their networks.

It is exciting to see a genuine momentum behind the forces driving social action and a community of shared purpose emerging.

Today’s generation of young people are driven and determined to make a difference in the world. A study by #iwill shows four in ten young people between the ages of 10 and 20 get involved in social action activities, but we also know that almost twice as many want to. 81 per cent of secondary school pupils want their schools to do more to help them get involved in social action.

Business values the qualities community involvement and activism helps develop in young people. According to CIPD, nearly seven in ten employers (67%) say entry-level candidates who have voluntary experience demonstrate more employability skills such as teamwork, communication and community understanding.  CBI research shows more than eight in ten employers (85%) say they prioritise character and attitude over academic results.

Bringing these forces together offers an opportunity to foster a dynamic pathway between social action and the world of work.

However, barriers still exist to embedding social action across the fabric of our communities and throughout society. This is particularly the case for young people from the poorest backgrounds – research by #iwill shows 51 per cent of young people from the higher income brackets take part in social action, compared with only 32 per cent from the lowest incomes.

This matters because it means young people in deprived communities are unable to access the benefits that flow from social action involvement, particularly the improvements in employability skills. Likewise, it means their communities are missing the opportunity to harness and mobilise the talents of their young people to tackle local issues.

The new toolkit is an important step on the journey to break down barriers, spread social action more broadly and embed more deeply in our communities. It supports the hard work of schools and colleges across the country in creating a roadmap between social action and careers pathways.

Furthermore, the toolkit connects young people, parents, schools, colleges, education leaders and the business community with practical guidance on social action. It helps them understand the value, provides inspiration to bring to life what it means and how it works and provides support to help them implement programmes and measure their impact.

I look forward to this work spreading the benefits of social action more widely and helping deliver on the vision set out in our 2018 report. A society where all young people are encouraged to participate in social action – play an active part in the community, help others, develop skills and networks, mix with people from different backgrounds and understand the challenges of others. In short, a truly vibrant, diverse, inclusive and cohesive society.

View the new Youth Social Action Toolkit here.