Youth employability is a significant problem all around the world; young people are almost three times more likely to be unemployed than adults and International Youth Day marked an important moment to address these challenges. The UK ICS Youth Employability and Skills (YES) event brought ICS alumni from around the country together, tackling the issue through building skills around workshops, panel discussions and networks.
Growing up in North Wales meant I felt first-hand how hard it was as a young person to get a job. Where I grew up recorded a 67 per cent unemployment rate last year, dubbed ‘the unemployment capital of Wales’. Before going away with Raleigh on ICS, I thought the barrier against youth employment was down to financial exclusion or lack of opportunities because of my circumstances, but I understand now my ability to articulate what skills and experiences I have to an employer – through my CV or through an interview – is vital. We must be confident in the skills we do have.
— Raleigh International (@Raleigh_) August 10, 2019
Volunteer discussing networking at a Raleigh workshop
I also learnt about Corporate Social Responsibility, known as CSR, as an area of employment. Increasingly every corporation has a responsibility to be socially accountable. Contemplating what our own values are and what we find important when looking for a job, we looked at case studies of corporations like Coca Cola and Bosch whose core values may align with an environmental organisation, and how they would find charities to partner with. This reminded me of the partnerships Raleigh has with organisations like RB and McCann, and how they work with Raleigh on their CSR projects to further their own missions alongside Raleigh’s own. I learnt that I can make a difference without working in the Charity sector.
When it came to reflecting on our own experiences as ICS alumni, panel member Laura Jane, CEO of Youth Employment UK, reminded us of the value our ICS experience holds – ‘there is no limit from where we start to where we end up, it’s about how we apply our skills and embrace our opportunities – opportunities like ICS’. We learnt that it is motivation that is the most valuable asset you can bring to an employer, and ICS is a clear indicator that you possess this.
When I was growing up, I always thought you became a teacher, nurse or you worked in Tesco. I didn’t see all these opportunities. Going on ICS meant I met a whole range of different people and I learnt about bigger opportunities. The panel discussion highlighted how ICS builds networks, opens people up to new opportunities, builds set skills, resilience and shows evidence of passion and integrity.
My biggest takeaway from the day? You must use your voices so the next generation of young people don’t get lost in the economic uncertainty to come.
Raleigh International Citizen Service (ICS) is an overseas volunteering programme, funded by the UK Government. Read more about the work and experiences of Raleigh alumni on our blogs.