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Career Ready at 18

How employer engagement boosts local social mobility, attainment, and wellbeing for young people

Exec. summary
full report

Research/Press: Tom.Rippon@careerready.org.uk
Employer Partnerships: Partnerships@careerready.org.uk

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Foreword

I am delighted to introduce this new report by Career Ready and Opinium, which looks at all the ways Career Ready has made a difference over the last 18 years. As a former Career Ready student I know first-hand the changes it can bring. 

For as long as I can remember, I have been incredibly shy. Throughout school I always received the same feedback: I needed to speak up and participate. But it seemed impossible. I was worried about standing out in a job or university application, and how I would handle the pressure of an interview.

Career Ready completely changed this for me.

Not only has Career Ready opened new doors for me, it has given me the confidence and skills I needed to strive for my new-found ambitions.

I am now looking at becoming a Career Ready mentor myself so I can give other young people the support which changed my life. I urge you to do the same, you won’t regret it.

Lucy Corcoran
Career Ready alumna, 2017
Marketing Degree Apprentice 

Since 2002 Career Ready has been transforming young lives. Over the years, we have built a powerful network who have worked with passion to create a truly life-changing programme of paid internships, mentoring, skills masterclasses, and workplace visits.

To mark what is our 18th year, we have worked with Opinium to investigate the long-term impact our programme has had on the lives of those young people we support. Now is the time for us to understand the long-term difference we make.  

Not only so that we can understand the difference we’ve made to a young person’s life five or ten 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.

When we started work on this report, we had no way of knowing that it would be published at such a critical moment. 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.

No one is being hit harder than those we seek to support: young people whose talents all too often go overlooked and undiscovered. Already, evidence shows that the UK’s long-term social mobility challenge is being exacerbated by COVID-19.

We need to find workable, evidence-based solutions to these problems. I am proud that this report provides this.

Our evidence shows that connecting young people to workplace experiences and support boosts their career and education attainment, this will be vital in helping young people to succeed in the post-COVID landscape. Moreover, it highlights how local employer engagement helps to boost localised social mobility and build networks of support in communities across the UK.

Finally, 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. 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.

Tokunbo Ajasa-Oluwa
Chief Executive, Career Ready

Youth unemployment and the accompanying loss of talent is a persistent problem. At Citi, we aim to address this through our Pathways to Progress initiative, which equips young people, especially those from less-advantaged backgrounds, with the skills and networks they need to succeed in today’s rapidly changing economy. 

I am proud that our partnership with Career Ready helps us to achieve this goal of enabling growth and progress in our communities. 

Our partnership has created opportunities that benefit young people and has grown remarkably in depth, and breadth since it was formed in 2002. We work together throughout the UK and our employees are able to access a range of volunteering and development opportunities. Career Ready also connects us with a constantly renewing cohort of terrific young people from diverse backgrounds, all with huge potential. 

The real impact is without doubt upon the young people we support. Career Ready enables us to help lift aspirations and capabilities to new heights. It has been an absolute pleasure to see this first-hand. The end of internship presentations are a great example, showing the incredible journey in building confidence and skills that the students go through over the four weeks. 

It is with great pleasure therefore that Citi and the Citi Foundation have supported this research. The report clearly shows the life-changing impact which Career Ready has had over the last 18 years, not just on individual young people, but also the communities it works in. 

Moreover, it provides practical ways in which employers like Citi can meet our social and business responsibilities by equipping the next generation of workers with the skills they need to succeed in the workplace. 

I am very proud of our partnership with Career Ready and hope others will join us. 

James Bardrick
Head of Citi, UK

About this report

Career Ready at 18 ?

We were founded in 2002 by leading business figures with a mission: to boost social mobility by empowering young people and giving them a network of workplace opportunities and support. 

Through our network of employers, volunteers, schools and colleges, we provide young people with a structured,programme built around rich, authentic experiences of the world of work including mentoring, skills masterclasses and paid internships – all while still at school.

To mark what is the 18th year of our work, we have worked closely with Opinium, thanks to the support of Citi Group and the Citi Foundation, to evidence the impact this activity has made to young lives over the years, capture the progress made by our alumni, and discover how we can best support more young people.

Our programmes
The social mobility challenge

Unlimited potential,
limited opportunity

Meritocracy has all too often been portrayed as a truth in UK education and employment. With social mobility and improved life chances being achievable for all those with talent and hard work, regardless of their background.

This story, however, is disconnected from reality. While talent is everywhere, the UK is short on opportunities and positive outcomes for young people from less advantaged socio-economic backgrounds.

Over the years we have been able to support over 150,000 young people in all areas of the UK, and give them the platform they need to compete with their more advantaged peers in both education and employment.

This research brings together, for the first time, the difference we have made to young lives and local communities over the last 18 years, and practical solutions to how social mobility can be boosted.

Why we exist
what we found

What we found

By connecting young people with the world of work we are able to make a real difference at a crucial point in their education: boosting their confidence and empowering them to reach new heights in education and the workplace. The four key findings of our research were:

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Increased academic and career attainement
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Increased academic and career attainment

  • Increased academic attainment
  • Stable, full-time futures
  • Job satisfaction
  • Workplace confidence

Our research demonstrates that, prior to starting the programme, many participants found themselves on a path towards low achievement, little work experience and a limited social network that was unlikely to improve their education, career, and life prospects.

However, in partnership with educators, employers, and other third-sector organisations, our activities have had a positive impact on their academic achievement and core workplace skills.

0%
of alumni obtained Further or Higher education qualifications
0%
of alumni have the ambition to reach a higher position in their organisation
0%
of alumni are in full-time education or employment
0%
of alumni believe they have the ability to reach a high position in their organisation
Enhanced local social mobility

Enhanced local social mobility

  • The power of internships: stronger, local roots
  • Enhanced local social capital
  • The importance of mentoring

Crucially, we found that our programme, specifically a paid internship and mentor, helps boost young people’s local social capital and social mobility.

Such support changes young lives by widening their perspectives and providing a long-term network, without taking them far from where they currently live.

0X
Our alumni’s network is twice the size of their non-programme peers
0%
of alumni say they have close relationships with colleagues
0%
of alumni said their internship greatly improved their knowledge of the workplace
0%
of alumni said their internship helped them meet people who could help them with their career
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Wellbeing through workplace experiences
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Wellbeing through workplace experiences

  • Confidence to find the right path
  • Increased self-esteem
  • Higher life satisfaction
  • Stronger personal relationships

As has already been shown, active employer engagement has a significant impact on the educational attainment and future earnings of the young people, but exposure to these opportunities can also have a more personal impact on their lives, especially with their confidence and aspirations.

0%
of alumni said Career Ready had a positive impact on their life
0%
of alumni said Career Ready helped them develop key employability skills
0%
of alumni said they have the things they consider important in life
0%
of alumni said Career Ready increased their levels of confidence
What we recommend

What we recommend

Based on these findings, we have three core recommendations for policy makers, employers, and other organisations working in education and the third sector. Each one is designed to boost social mobility, level up local areas, and provide much needed support for young people aged 15-18 at a crucial point in their education and life.

Read all about it

executive summary
full report

18 stories for 18 years

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18 stories for 18 years