As 2021 draws to a close, it’s important to take stock on the hurdles we’ve faced and everything we’ve achieved, individually and collectively. Here are my reflections on the past year:

The resilience of young people

2021 has presented many challenges for everyone, but young people have been especially hard hit. With education disrupted and workplace opportunities cut, the consequences of this are already being seen when it comes to the attainment gap in the U.K.  

Being a young adult can be one of the most exciting times in life. It’s when you get to discover and explore who you are and step into independent life. Even though 2021 has compromised this experience for many young people, those that we have supported this year have impressively persevered.

Their resilience in dealing with these challenges is something we recognise, celebrate and never forget.

#InvestInYoungTalent and level up

It’s reassuring to see the economy and employment growing back towards pre-pandemic levels; however the reality is that one in ten young people are currently out of employment, education, or training. Moreover, the workplace opportunities for those in education, or recently graduated, have been cut.

This loss of opportunity for young people is something which concerns us all. It’s their talents which will form the workforce, deliver future growth, and help to level up communities.

This year, to help fix this, we committed to an internship guarantee for our young people as part of our new three-year strategy. Yet this ambitious commitment is only possible with the help of others. That’s why we’re calling on employers of all sizes and sectors to partner with us and give young people the opportunities they need to thrive.

The importance of being kind to ourselves

We should never lose sight of the importance of taking care of ourselves. As the pandemic has worn on, our perception of normality has readjusted, and we forget the importance of finding the time to recalibrate our wellbeing.

At Career Ready we emphasise the importance of ensuring that we each find the time to do whatever it is that will protect our mental and physical wellbeing. For me, it’s meditating, getting on my bike or having scheduled 15-minute breaks slotted in across the week to do some colouring in my 90s hip-hop colouring book.

And I’m transparent about this with my team, so they know they have the same agency and freedom to use the tools that work for them. After all, if our wellbeing isn’t as it should be, we won’t be the best versions of ourselves inside or outside of work.

Agility in an uncertain world

If there is one thing we can all learn from the last two years, it’s the importance of reacting to unforeseen circumstances. Despite our yearning for the old normality, we will continue to live in uncertain times for a while to come. And we will need to respond to changes as they appear.

I’m proud with how we’ve been able to achieve this at Career Ready. Our agility, collectively and individually, has meant that we’ve been able to provide the best possible support to young people under some very difficult circumstances.

This has been underpinned by our bravery in embracing new ways of working and digital tools. And I’m excited to see how we can continually adapt as an organisation and evolve our approach next year.

2022 will no doubt be full of challenges again, but I know with the fantastic team we have at Career Ready, and our network of partners across the UK, we will be able to meet them – so bring it on!

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