In addition to my work running The Found Generation, I have also been serving as a member of the Advisory Board of another campaign on youth unemployment, called Youth Employment UK. While The Found Generation focuses on political campaigning and calling for changes to government policy to tackle youth unemployment, the Youth Employment UK campaign focuses on action on the ground and in local communities to tackle the issue – aiming to bring employers, education providers and young people together to reduce youth unemployment.
One of the key initiatives of YEUK which has just recently launched is the Youth Friendly Badge. This is a badge which is awarded to employers who are able to demonstrate that they are being “friendly” to young people and supporting young people into employment. It is completely FREE for employers to get the badge; it is designed to be equally applicable to large and small employers; and the Badge has had input from employers such as Barclays throughout its development (see here for further details).
To be awarded the badge, all an employer has to do is meet several simple requirements:
- They must sign up to YEUK’s Positive Youth Charter. All this means for employers is that they sign up to the following statement of principles:
“By signing this charter I agree to the continued development of mine and myorganisations skills, attitudes and behaviours in respect to the recruitment, support and engagement of young people.”
- They must run a minimum of two “youth friendly” activities per year. This includes a wide range of possible activities to support young people such as careers talks in schools, offering work experience, mentoring and much more. It might be as little as doing a couple of hour-long talks in schools but could be as much as an employer offering two young people (or hopefully more) a job in their organisation.
- Finally, the employer must compare their existing business behaviours against the eight specified “Youth Friendly” behaviours to see how much their organisation supports young people within their operation. If they meet six or more of the criteria, the employer is certified and awarded the Youth Friendly Badge at Bronze level. If they meet seven of the criteria they are awarded the Badge at Silver level. If they meet all eight of the criteria, they are awarded the Badge at Gold level.
The 8 criteria are:
- The employer should have signed the Positive Youth Charter and this should be acknowledged externally and internally by the employer (as discussed above);
- The employer should commit to at least two “Youth Friendly” activities per year (as discussed above);
- The employer should see youth engagement and and employment as part of its local social investment and this should be built into a social responsibility plan or something similar;
- The employer should have a recruitment policy which is positive about recruiting young people and which recognises talent alongside formal qualifications;
- The employer should ensure that young employees are supported appropriately with their personal and professional development;
- The employer should also consult young employees on youth policy, training and development;
- The employer should contribute in some way to the public debate about youth unemployment or contribute to research into youth unemployment;
- The employer should require their contractors, suppliers etc to commit to becoming “Youth Friendly”.
All in all, it is an award which can be achieved by employers with very little work or cost. The hope is that the employer will, having done the minimum, then recognise the benefits of being positive about employing young people and will then want to do more and go further with what it does.
We support the idea of the Badge in general, but the last of the 8 criteria I have outlined is the most exciting for the purposes of tackling youth unemployment. If every employer that wishes to achieve the Youth Friendly badge requires their contractors and suppliers to commit to being positive about young people, and these contractors and suppliers do the same to their contractors and suppliers, and so on, there is potential for a huge uptake of the Badge by many employers around the country. Indeed, I understand there has already been significant interest in the Badge by employers.
If you want to find out more, the Youtube video below shows highlights of the Badge’s launch event in London – you can see me speaking briefly about why I support the Badge from 6:42 onwards.