Tokunbo Ajasa-Oluwa shares how our new report, Career Ready at 18, captures the real change our network makes on the lives of young people. 

Our mission should be to bring real change to young people’s lives. But all too often as a sector we focus on the here and now: immediate outputs, short-term impact, numbers which hit a target but miss the point.

Real change is about empowering people 5, 10, 15 years into the future. If we can capture this then we know that we are on the right path.

That is why, to mark our 18th year, we have worked with Opinium to investigate the long-term impact our programme has had on the young people we support.

Not only so that we can understand the difference we’ve made to a young person’s life 5 or 10 years after our programme has finished, but so that we – both as an individual charity and as a wider sector – can learn how we can better support young people.

I am proud that Career Ready at 18 captures this. It shows how we empower young people to aim higher, do better, and feel happier.

Career Ready at 18

Our evidence shows that connecting young people to workplace experiences and support boosts their career and education. Moreover, it highlights how local employer engagement helps to boost localised social mobility and build networks of support in communities across the UK.

Most importantly, it evidences how workplace support and experience has a wider, personal difference. It makes young people more confident, aspirational, and happier about what they are achieving in life. There are few more important things than this and it is something which fills me with pride about the network I lead.

There has never been a moment where young people need our support more. The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the lives of young people. Education is disrupted, workplaces are shut, futures are being put on hold or – worse – lost forever.

This report provides the practical evidence on how we can best help them.

All we ask is that you join us in providing young people with the paid internships opportunities and support they need to build successful, happier futures.