Our ancestors are totally essential to our every waking moment, although most of us don’t even have the faintest idea about their lives, their trials, their hardships or challenges. Annie Lennox
Pretty much everyone cares very much about the wellbeing of the children in society and holds hope that their future will be bright. For parents and grandparents, godparents and other carers of the young, this is one of the most compelling hopes we have. We do our best for our children. A mark of a good society might be seen to be that collectively it does this at scale. We need now to do it not only at scale, but also at pace.
Both at home and across the globe, it is currently a challenge to consider that we are shaping up to be ‘good ancestors’. As the transient, self-appointed custodians of our planet we leave more than a lot to be desired; and it is a mark of shame on us that more, not fewer, children are growing up in poverty. Each of us has a part to play in shifting the dial.
We can all act in some way to better the chances of the young to progress successfully into independent adulthood – especially at a time in our history when so much is spoken about the difficulties they are expected to face as they enter the world of work.
For any business or organisation, as I wrote a few months ago, survival has been a challenge, never mind how to reach out and support so many young people who have missed out on the experiences they might normally expect to enjoy. Even in ‘normal’ more prosperous times, it is hard to know best how to provide or support the opportunities which will help youngsters find their best way into the right working future for them.
There are multiple calls to offer placements, provide work experience, participate in programmes in partnership with schools or colleges. They are all of value. This kind of outreach helps. There are organisations and platforms which make it easy to make a manageable contribution, like: https://www.founders4schools.org.uk
It is challenging, though, to know how to measure the true impact of the actions we choose to take for the common good. Thriving as a business and providing good employment is no small contribution – but how, for example, can an employer measure impact on social mobility? The Social Mobility Foundation Employer Index makes it easy to give consideration to this question: https://www.socialmobility.org.uk/index/
What remains certain is that the future will be a brighter one for our own children, for the younger generation and for those who follow if we can pull together as a business community with the world of education and skills to provide and share opportunity.
Alison Shaw – Professor of Practice for Student Success and Progression at Newcastle University