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As part of our advisory service – Pontoon Instinct – and specifically within the ESG & Impact practice, we help our clients transform their DE&I processes and strategies. Our experts support customers in redesigning their hiring approaches, creating career mobility schemes, and engaging young workers through academic partnerships and youth empowerment programmes.
In this video, Pontoon’s Head of Client ESG & Impact – Frederik Otto – speaks with the Adecco Group’s UK&I Head of Social Innovation & Impact – Sandhya Sabapathy – on why it’s essential to engage younger generations as soon as possible to build a future-ready workforce. One of the programmes managed by Sandhya is Creating Brighter Futures, a youth empowerment and employability scheme that helps children turn their talents into potential careers.
Tune in to Freddy and Sandhya’s conversation for insights on how to best empower young people early in their careers.
Frederik Otto: The reason why you are my interviewee today is because we want to talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion, and everything that comes with it. We want to start with a very foundational layer of that universe and the systemic side of DE&I. Many clients are asking us: What is it exactly that I can do? How can I engage with young people, including individuals from underserved communities or non-dominant groups, before they even enter the workforce? In other words, how can organisations build the workforce of the future now?
Sandhya Sabapathy: Younger professionals have quite a deep understanding and almost a need of giving back. So they start holding organisations to a much higher standard than the previous generations – they pick organisations that have a strong social purpose over ones that don’t.
I think engaging people at a much younger age is crucial. This is the foundation of all our programmes – including Creating Brighter Futures. We start at 11 years old, because there are plenty of studies showing that intellectual confidence develops between 11 and 13, and that’s when you figure out what you are good at, as in: “I’m good at Math, so maybe I should go into engineering in the future”, for example. Talking to students and schools at that age helps to create that confidence for students to apply what they think they’re good at to a possible career path.
It could be something that’s extracurricular, that does not qualify as Math and English, that they could develop into a career. That was at the heart of Creating Brighter Futures and this is where we want to start making a change. The programme extends to 16 plus, which is a key career transition moment and also to 18 plus where we work with universities, specifically pro-social mobility universities. These institutions are located in cold spots across the UK and Ireland, having over 50% of their students coming from underserved backgrounds. I think there are so many elements when it comes to developing social mobility and starting young is an excellent way to go about it.
Also, purely from a corporate branding standpoint, it makes a lot more sense for the brand to be sticky with a younger audience so that youth develops positive connections to the brand, and when they are ready to start getting employed in the future, they already have a relationship with the brand.
Frederik Otto: Is there any government or a public partnership involved in your programme?
Sandhya Sabapathy: We are part of a coalition called the Purpose Coalition. We’ve been doing it over the past two years to improve our advocacy in this space. We regularly engage with Cabinet Ministers, both the Levelling Up and Housing Cabinet Minister, as well as the Secretary of Education.
I think the most important thing is that throughout our journey for building the programme and engaging with lobbying, we have been focusing on how we can improve access to education and work opportunities, including at the local level. This is why we also do a lot of work with Local Councils.
Frederik Otto: Thank you very much for this, and obviously, all of these services you offer to employers are available through Pontoon Instinct and our DE&I advisory practice.
Get in touch with us through the button below to see how we can help you drive systemic changes to young talent employability through public, private and academic partnerships.