The young people of the United Kingdom are facing an increasingly uncertain future. The turn of the new millennium supposedly heralded the start of a new era for young academics and trades people as they were urged to stay in education or take up the wide range of training opportunities. Over a decade later, the outlook is looking decidedly bleak for this and future generations. Charles Whitworth takes a look at ‘Positive for Youth’, a government paper designed to give responsibility to the people that matter in his latest education news feature.
The Positive for Youth paper is based on the principle of local partnerships and giving responsibility to young people; it is thought by many to be the key to the future of the country. With the current recession taking longer than expected to subside, the message being sent to those about to embark on their futures is to embrace the opportunities that are out there in order to fulfil their potential.
Over the years, adults have continually complained about younger generations. Musings of ‘they don’t know they’ve been born’ or ‘back in the day’ have now become British clichés as the older members of society pass the blame to the student and teenage demographic. One thing is clear however, the mess that the United Kingdom and indeed much of the world finds itself in is not the fault of the young, but the more established professionals. Irresponsible city bankers, brokers, conglomerates and global corporations must take the blame for plunging us into a global recession that could take decades to resolve.
With this in mind, the government has released this paper to help give some impetus back to the abundance of talented but jobless youngsters out there that are still keen to have successful lives and careers. Aptly named, the Positive for Youth campaign could well be of interest to you if the future seems uncertain but you wish to make a difference.
So, what does this initiative entail? The strategy basically calls for a “new partnership approach” around the nation. Similarly to Prime Minster Cameron’s much publicised ‘big nation’ principle, it encourages young people, businesses, charities, public services and the rest of the community to group together and create more training, career and social opportunities. For public services and training particularly, early and positive support can reduce the chances of public funds being wasted as this holds young people in expensive secure provision.
Pleasingly, the government has actually put its money where its mouth is with Positive for Youth and has already invested several millions of pounds into cutting edge ‘MyPlace’ youth clubs around the UK. Flexible provision is also on the cards so that those that don’t live close to any of these outlets can travel easily and cheaply.
The first example of Positive for Youth having a great effect on the prospects and spirits of young people has come at the National Children’s Bureau. The charity for young people has teamed up with Asda and Business in the Community, a coalition that actually dates back three years, to form a collaboration by the name of OnRoute. In the true spirit of the Positive for Youth paper, the programme has been well supported by local partnerships and provides a travel infrastructure. Sexual health advice, sport, education, fun activities and IT have all been provided for local areas, much to the delight of young people and parents alike.
The NCB commented: “At the NCB we are pleased with Positive For Youth’s holistic approach to giving young people more opportunities and better support, and we will be eagerly watching to see how the policies take shape.”
The initiative helped the police to identify hotspots where less conscientious teenagers had been causing trouble, giving an added benefit to the community. Through the simple and cost effective running of a bus, regions are not only giving power and authority to the demographic that matters the most, you guys, but has also lowered anti social behaviour. Certain areas have enjoyed up to 1,000 fewer police deployments, more than a 30% decrease in inconsiderate behaviour and a 25% drop in ASBO’s. So not only do ambitious youngsters get the chance to develop their skills, but the community benefits greatly, surely a splendid advert for the campaign. Unsurprisingly, plans are already afoot to implement more local business-youth partnerships across the country.
Positive for Youth clearly aims to place teenagers and young people at its heart, which is music to the ears of Futures magazine. There is the accurate expectation that teenagers themselves have the responsibility and desire to improve their own local communities. The government pioneered the idea that young people are capable of assessing the quality of their local services. Another Positive for Youth scheme created by the NCB, this time with the British Youth Council and disabled children’s charity KIDS, is Young Inspectors, which trains some of the most disadvantaged young people from poorer communities to inspect and report on local services. The Young Inspectors scheme has so far helped to change the lives of more than 1,400 young people and improve more than 600 local services.
There is a legal requirement across public services to listen to the views of service users and this must surely include the next generation. It seems that the government is listening and the fact that the current crops of talented youngsters hold the key to the future is being recognised. There is also of course the business case for commercial suppliers to listen to consumers; again this is no different in the case of the young demographic.
Teenagers use more public services than any other group of the community such as police stations, surgeries, clubs and libraries. You also spend in excess of £12bn in shopping and travel up to the age of 19. For this reason, it is not unreasonable for you to expect to see services improved especially when a lot is being given back to society via schemes such as Positive for Youth.
Involving young people as Young Inspectors or through any of the other projects that come about as a result of this legislature makes business sense for the powers that be and is surely a sure fire way of developing young people’s self-esteem, your ability to analyse and communicate as well as a plethora of other skills that will prove to be critical to employers in future years. For these reasons, Futures magazine cannot implore you enough to get involved with what is set to be a great success for the group of people in this country that need it the most. If you are struggling to find your way through the tsunami of joblessness and lack of opportunities then Positive for Youth really is a no brainer.