In the Queen's speech this week, the Queen stated that delivering the best schools and skills for young people remains a government priority with further reforms under way to prepare school pupils for employment. In addition, the government will increase the total number of apprenticeship places to two million by the end of the Parliament. This very public commitment is a step in the right direction, but so much more needs to be done to help tackle the issue of youth unemployment in Britain. Promoting employability is our number one priority at UK Youth.
Here are some of the facts - young people are three times more likely to be out of work than the rest of the UK population and long term youth unemployment is at it's highest since 1993. There are almost a million 16-24 year olds out of work, a figure that has remained stubbornly at this level for far too long.
Earlier this year the British Chambers of Commerce expressed fears about the creation of a 'lost generation,' and called for Government to focus on youth employment and training. UK Youth programmes are doing precisely this by providing young people with the chance to gain the kinds of skills that employers say they're looking for (and that mainstream education often fails to develop).
For more than 100 years our charity has been enabling young people to learn and succeed so we know that the vast of majority of 16-24 year-olds have an abundance of talent and resilience. Working with young people every day, we're acutely aware of what we stand to lose if we fail this generation.
UK Youth is part of the National Citizenship Service and the newly launched Step Up to Serve Campaign, both of which focus on helping to get more young people active in their communities. Our other programmes bring together businesses and charity partners and focus on the promotion of skills for work and life.
We've just closed applications for the fourth year of our Starbucks Youth Action programme which offers 16-24 years olds up to £2,000, as well as training and support to deliver a social action project. Through this young people are making a tangible contribution to society, while developing leadership and project management skills at the same time.
Our partnerships with Starbucks and the National Citizenship Service are vital in helping us support young people, and their desire to contribute to their communities. The originality and diversity of young people's projects is huge:
Charlie and Marti came to us with a plan to offer young people living with long term illness and disability access to much needed mini-breaks.
The Muffin's Dream Foundation provides 'boredom buster' gift bags containing games and activities for all ages.
Fit2 Box offers the opportunity for young people to get fit while also working on their communication, team work and leadership skills.
Through these Starbucks Youth Action projects we are enabling young people to learn and support their peers, to become fulfilled adults and to contribute positively to the areas in which they live. The young people behind these projects share an appetite for hard work as well as showing integrity and determination - all attributes this generation most value in their leaders as the recent Starbucks Youth Inspiration Index found. Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill topped the poll of public figures exemplifying the principles of honesty, integrity and self-discipline. With admiration for these qualities the leaders of tomorrow are likely to be a formidable force.
Far from the negative media stereotypes, this generation is busy creating positive social change through thousands of projects like these. But we know we can do more to support them and by doing so we will ensure that they don't become a 'lost' generation. Visit www.ukyouth.org to find out more about our work.