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Yorkshire businesses urged to support young people into social action

Pictured is the Prince of Wales addressing the advisory council


Yorkshire businesses are being urged to get involved in a nationwide initiative, supported by HRH Prince of Wales, to encourage more young people to take part in social action, from volunteering to fundraising, in order to develop vital employability skills. 

The call comes from 12 leading UK organisations who were among the first to sign up to the #iwill campaign three years ago, a number of which have operations in the region.  Since then hundreds of businesses across the country have pledged their support to the campaign. 

The #iwill campaign promotes social action among 10-20 year-olds. This includes activities such as campaigning, fundraising and volunteering, all of which create a double-benefit – to communities and young people themselves.

So far 700 business, education and voluntary sector partners have committed to taking action that will help build social action into the lives of young people. #iwill is targeting an additional 50 new organisations in Yorkshire to participate in such activities by 2018. 

To support the call to action, Step up to Serve, the charity behind #iwill, has launched a guide to encourage more businesses to participate. This highlights how the original 12 signatories have embraced social action, and showcases the different ways businesses across the region can do their bit.  

It comes as new research carried out by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the campaign reveals that 88 per cent of young people involved in social action on a monthly basis believe it will help them find work in future. It also follows research last week by the Association of Graduate Recruiters which showed that half of employers don’t think graduates have the skills to start work. 

Original signatories of the campaign who have operations in the region include British Gas, National Grid, O2 and Sky. 

British Gas has built youth social action into their recruitment process to ensure that, at every stage, young people are encouraged to talk about their social action experience and demonstrate the skills and competencies they have developed outside the workplace. The approach has enabled British Gas to identify and recruit young people who are more ready for work, with the skills, confidence and ability to interact with others. They have also identified that young people with youth social action experience are better able to pick up the requirements of the job than those without similar experiences. 

Getting involved in social action is embedded in National Grid’s new talent programme. As part of their induction, graduates are encouraged to get involved in social action and specifically to support EmployAbility, the company’s supported internship programme for young people with learning disabilities who, in spite of their many abilities, have only a six per cent likelihood of achieving paid employment. They do this by organising “Work Inspiration Week” for around 50 young people with learning disabilities.  

O2 has funded over 7,000 young people to lead social action projects in their communities, gaining leadership, management, finance, teamworking, networking, and marketing skills, as well as boosting confidence and resilience.  

The company has also built a digital badge academy where organisations can create and award a branded badge to recognise skills gained from social action. Other companies are now invited to create a badge in the academy, showcasing how their brand helps young people develop skills and helping young people to demonstrate the skills they have gained. 

Paul Drechsler, president at the CBI, said: “By giving young people the chance to take part in social action and voluntary work, we open up opportunities that set them up to succeed in work and in life.  Our local communities benefit from their time, energy and skills. Many businesses are already playing their part, but today is about encouraging companies to do even more to create a culture of social action in their own organisations.” 

Peter Cheese, CEO at the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, said: “We believe that there is a strong case for social action to be integrated into organisations’ people development and resourcing strategies.

“By failing to uncover candidates’ experience of social action during the recruitment process, employers could be missing out on enthusiastic individuals who have precisely the types of employability skills organisations tell us they need and struggle to find.” 

Charlotte Hill, chief executive of Step up to Serve, said: “We know that, first and foremost, employers want young people with resilience, enthusiasm, good communication skills and creativity, not academic ability alone.

“We believe that social action enables young people to fulfil their potential. Helping them to participate benefits businesses and communities alike, by increasing civic participation, strengthening engagement in education and improving work-readiness.”

The #iwill guide is free of charge and can be downloaded at:


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