To find out the challenges and opportunities in front of young people today, we’re speaking with Jack Parsons and Leon Marseglia – the forces behind the UK’s largest community for young people, The Youth Group.
Since launching the company 4 years ago, “Young Jack,” as he’s often called, has managed to grow their community to 1.7 million young individuals and connect thousands of them with some of the best UK companies offering jobs, upskilling, and mentorship. Their exceptional accomplishments have been recognized by countless awards and honours, one of which is Jack’s ‘UK’s Kindest Leader’ award by the Financial Times. When Leon came on board, they took The Youth Group to one of the top 25 startups in the UK.
What we discussed:
Below is an automated transcript of the episode. Please note that mistakes and typos are possible. AI is still not better than us humans 😉
Did you know that one in six children in the UK have been identified as having a probable mental health problem? That’s five children in every classroom. This is a record high in human history that we’ve never experienced before. But why is it happening? Today I’m speaking with Jack Parsons and his co founder Leon mercy glia. The forces behind the UK swatches community for young people the youth group, since starting the company four years ago, young Jack is he’s often called, he has managed to grow their community to over 1.7 million young individuals, and connect 1000s of them with some of the best UK companies offering jobs upskilling and mentorship. Their exceptional achievements have been recognised by countless Awards and honours, one of which is Jack’s UK is kindness Leader Award by the Financial Times. When Leon came on board, they took the youth group to one of the top 25 startups in the UK. How did they achieve this? What are the biggest challenges in front of young people today? And what are the right opportunities worth exploring? Answers to these questions and many more in the next 60 minutes? Meet young Jack and Neil.
Welcome to the product show, insightful interviews with founders and tech leaders sharing how they hack product growth.
Jack Lyon, welcome to the podcast. It’s a pleasure to have you here. You are the people behind the youth group. The youth group is an organisation helping young people with employment upskilling, finding mentors and many more just creating opportunities for them. Tell me a little bit more about your company. Why does it exist? How are you making change in the world?
Absolutely. I’ll start with my point of view. And it might be completely different to what Leon says the youth group, because we’re always growing and changing daily, which is always important when you’re when you’re a small business trying to grow. So the youth group, we are a movement, we empower and inspire young people with tomorrow’s skills in today’s jobs. And how can you really empower young people to thrive, get into work, earn some money, become an entrepreneur, and really immerse them in understanding their first five years in the professional world. We are a community of 1.7 million young people, we’ve helped over 105,000 young people get into work in the last three years, we have over 25 million insights on our youth across the country, what they feel, what they don’t like, what they do, like what kind of jobs do they want to get into. And we employ 155 people across the group at the youth group to really help those young people to thrive. And we work with just shy of 1000 partners on a monthly basis. So lots going on. Not enough, I get up every day thinking what can we do more? How can we be better when we’re not perfect? No one is, but how can we be 1% better each day? So that’s my point of view in terms of who the youth group is. Leon?
I think you explained that really? Well. Jack, I would add to that, as well as how do you our focus is how do you build the confidence and the resilience in young people? Because there’s one thing getting them an opportunity and helping them get that first job or connecting them with a mentor. But then they have their own battles around? Am I right for this role based imposter syndrome sets in? So it’s also overcoming those challenges for young people when it comes to their confidence, their resilience, but also the imposter syndrome that everyone gets? How do you deal with that imposter syndrome? They were the only bit sideout. I think, Jay, you explained that brilliantly.
Amazing. Tell me a little bit more about those early days when you discovered that we really need such an organisation what was missing?
So the youth group sprang from my personal background growing up in a counsellor stay, not having any career opportunities, I left school. I wasn’t the smartest person and I didn’t have much qualifications behind me. I tried to go to uni, but unfortunately, I failed. I didn’t get the qualifications to get into uni. So I was left there. What do I do? Where do I go? I had no role model. I call them role models, not role models, people around you who are doing real jobs in real lifetime that you can learn from. I had none of that around me. So and that really made me disconnected. It made me really sad in terms of who do I turn to who was there to mentor me. And so this this came from a personal challenge on one into I want to work young people want to get into work then I know us snowflakes, ladies See, and young people don’t want to work. Young people do want to work, if it’s something they’re passionate about. Now, I’m a realist, I understand that some young people, we have to get them into work and say, Come on, you stop being lazy, get up, stop being entitled, I get that I’m a realist. But at the end of the day, if a young person can find their passion, find something that motivates them, and earn some money while doing that, you will get a dedicated, hard working individual, yes, with some mistakes along the way, but they will be really ready to go. And that’s where it all started. For me. I had no career opportunities, I had no mentorship. What you see, what you can see is what you become. And to become something you have to go and see it, you have to go and learn it from experience. I had none of that around me. So for me, it was all about how can we create something that can actually help me mobilise my career journey, and that’s where youth group came from. It came from her it came from wanting to do something different, that actually supported people. The aim was only to ever help 100 young people that was the it was a small project 100 young people into work, and we’ll see where it goes from there. And we’re free years later, under and 5000 young people into work, and it’s starting to kind of snowball. Now.
Jack, your personal story is quite inspiring. You come from financially disadvantaged family, your mother battled alcoholism, when you were young, you had dyslexia, which weekly to support, make life even harder. And then despite all of that, you managed to achieve so much with the group and to become the man you are today. Tell me what was it we can younger chalk, that making us far more than, or the immediate circumstances offered. It’s really hard on young people who are in this situation, to find the motivation, the inspiration, even the models around them, to help them want more, what was it for you that help you
growing up I was never loved. And that does something to a young person and you feel lost and you feel lonely. And my upbringing I used to go home and I it was an uninspiring apartment flat that I lived in. Mum was an alcoholic. So she was only ever in free moves drunk fighting asleep. Those environments you do not want to be in no one does. Everyone wants to be in a positive, kind, uplifting environment that makes you thrive in whatever. Whatever you want to do in life, that that environment did not make me want to thrive. It wanted me not to be in this world anymore. And it made me really really demotivated. And when you’re in that, it’s like a saying you’re in a boat and the boat is sinking, you can see water coming into this boat, you want to either fix the boat or get out the boat as quickly as you can, is it’s better to get out the boat. So the boat doesn’t sink in the sea than it is to be in the boat. So I had two choices, try and fix the boat, or get out the boat. And the boat, I just didn’t know how to fix so I had to get out of it. And that makes you become a swimmer. And when you become a swimmer and in life challenges hit you and things hit you that you don’t imagine whatever hit you before. And you find a way. And that is what I did, I found a way to be positive to realise that no one’s going to come and save you Jack. If you’re going to get to the ocean, you’re gonna get to the shore and you’re going to really make sure that you’re going to survive and not sink, you’re going to have to learn skills, you’re going to have to do the jobs that no one is going to do. So I started my first job I went to pound 50 an hour. But I was so proud to be in that organisation turn up on my first day and and say that I had a job than not having it was a outbound calling centre call centre. And I was it was my job to call random numbers, considering I was really shy growing up random numbers and ask them if they had a car. And if they had a car, then ask them what they wanted to cheap quote insurance and then transfer it over to another table, which they called the big boys table who would then quote the policies for those individuals. So that was my job. For the first six months, random numbers. We had a target of 1200 200 calls as much as we can get to 200 calls as quick as we can add to hit your milestone. Did I really know what I was doing? No. But did I turn up to every day? Absolutely. I think when you’re an entrepreneur or when you’re growing your business or when you’re building your product, you have to show up every day.
Absolutely. That this brings Baoli on what was your upbringing like who are you as a kid?
Absolutely. So i i I grew up outside of London. So didn’t ever come into London until really late. And grown up out of London and in a city named one of the worst places to live in the UK for young people, there wasn’t a lot of opportunity or motivation, and didn’t really enjoy school. I knew when I was growing up, I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur didn’t really know what being an entrepreneur meant, but knew I do I want it to be one, I wanted to be my own boss, I wanted to create a meaningful impact on the world and create a difference in society. But I had no idea what that was. And so Chris, free school, finally left. And I decided to start my own business, I had no idea what I was doing. I just gave it a go. Because the opportunities in terms of careers around me, there wasn’t anything that excited me, there wasn’t anything where I could see a clear path. And I just knew that if I did my own thing, I could create my own path and figure it out. Yes, I’m gonna get it wrong 100 times, but only to get it right once. And so my first venture was a an app. And this app was called Tap to clap. And basically what it was, it was an app built, when the NHS for the UK during COVID. When they were when we did the it was 8pm. Every Friday, I think it was everyone went outside to clap for the NHS. And I said this is really cool. We can you can see everyone doing it across the country. But how can we see what the impact is overall? So I said, I’m gonna build an app where you go one, and 8pm, press a button, and you tap the clap. And we can see how many people across the whole of the country have collapsed, what areas clap the most, and kind of make it a bit of a game, but also show that, you know, we’re supporting the NHS. Now, my first challenge with that was I had no idea how to build an app. I had no product experience, didn’t know any programming. And I was like, I have no idea how to do this. I think my superpower and I think everyone has a superpower, my superpower was, if I want to do something, I’ll find a way, I’ll figure out a way of doing it. I went online, I found some guy was doing some volunteering work. And he helped me build this app. And we turned it around really quick. And it didn’t do amazing. It didn’t go global or anything. But was my first kind of idea that I made into reality, and actually got users on there, we made a difference. And I learned a lot from that. I didn’t sell it or anything. It was just kind of a fun venture that I started didn’t really know how to how to sell it at the time. And that was my kind of first instinct and first part of experience into business. Then later on, I said, Okay, that’s something cool. That was fun. But now I need to do something that’s going to help me sustain money because you know, I’m going to be moving out soon I need to make a living. And I don’t know what job I want to get into. So let me go for another business. That was a video marketing agency, started from my bedroom, again, had no idea what I was doing, but just gave it a go. I managed to figure out how to set up a company on Companies House, I think at the time, it cost me 14 Quit, and which was a lot of money at the time, but definitely worth the investment now. And I grew that agency to a few freelancers. And we had a fruit few clients. But it wasn’t social good. It wasn’t giving back. Like the tap to clap was, it wasn’t kind of doing good. And I want to do something that was doing good. I was I felt really lost, didn’t have a network, no mentors around me to give me some advice on what I could do. My mum and dad are brilliant mums, a social worker, but no one really entrepreneurial in my network. So I went online, I went searching. And I found Jack Young Jack, also known as UK chief officer. And I thought, wow, this guy is doing some really inspiring work for young people. I just fell in love with the idea straightaway. So I reached out said Jack, you don’t know me, but I love what you’re doing. Can I come shadow you for the day. And I did that shadow or come to London for the first time realise as a restaurant named after me called Leon. And I realised the lack of opportunity outside of London. There’s a lot of opportunity in London. But where I grew up, there wasn’t so that kind of opened my eyes to the opportunities within London, which was really interesting. And that day, I said, I want to work with you, Jack, I want I don’t know how but I want to work with you. And we ended up him actually acquiring my marketing agency and bringing it into youth group. And me joining youth group as the Chief Operating Officer.
From your stories and the stories of many other successful people I’ve heard, including people coming to your podcast is that one of the most important life skills for young people to build as soon as possible is resilience. For me, this entails being comfortable with rejection, and being adaptable to change. when life throws a punch, you get up and you continue. My observation is that that young people tend to complain and grumble a bit more. We used to be tougher. When I was in high school. I had a history teacher, which once told me in front of the whole class that I would never make Eternal life beyond the selling keenest market. He was absolutely devastating. So humiliating. I still remember this story. And it happened. She wasn’t dismissed. I didn’t have a social media platform going complain and find my support circle there. And I just got to press on continue studying next year, I got into one of the best university in the country, I was really bad. And what I’m trying to say is that, not that we have to normalise, abuse, or tolerate idiots, but the fact is, the world is full of idiots. And we just have to build this kind of thick skin as early as possible, and just be comfortable with rejection. I even think that this lack of resilience is probably fueling the mental health crisis we find ourselves in the moment. Do you agree with this point of view? Or do you think that probably, the opinion I just expressed is part of the problem.
So my point of view on resilience, anxiety, stress, I talk about mental health a lot online. And the UK is, we’re in a huge mental health crisis when it comes to young people right now. And I just believe that young people, young people create in a picture that’s not real. And they’re painting their pictures on someone else’s front in someone else’s canvas. And I just believe that life takes you in all different directions, we have to create more alien moments in our lives. And we can’t be boxed. I’m writing a book at the moment. And one of the chapters is Jack in the Box. But where’s my box. And in school, like that teacher, they like to box you in, because that’s all they know. And when you’re boxed in, and you fall over in that box, you get anxiety, your resilience, confidence is at an all time low across the country at the moment because of walls and everything that’s going on cost of living. And young people are getting their selves trapped in their own minds, when it comes to what’s real, what’s not, what don’t, don’t look at someone else’s success or roadmap and decide that your roadmap is wrong, or your roadmap is is not going to succeed based on someone else’s. I just believe that this is the world would come in. And the reason why that is, is because we’ve got the world of social media, and we paint a perfect picture. Nothing’s perfect glow. I’ve turned up to this call today. With that my air being done. I’ve not had a shave. And sometimes you don’t, I’m not going on any stage this week. You know what, I’ve got no podcast, I’ve got this one. But I’ve not got no guests coming over to with me this week. So sometimes you just have to have downtimes. And you just have to realise that you know what, we’re all human at the end of the day. And we’re not going to have everything figured out. But it’s really important in life to become useful. And that’s the only goal that people should have is to become useful to their family become useful to their neighbourhood become useful in their job and become useful to what they want to achieve in life. We all try and create a map of this success when actually no one has it figured out. That’s one thing I notice on all these guests that come on my podcast from the Prime Minister to to a CEO runs a 50 billion pound company is that everyone’s just trying to figure it out. And you really get to see who is with and who is deaf, and just focus on your own debt.
Right? You mentioned social media, I honestly feel that a huge part of the problem is social media. The FOMO young people experienced the costume comparison, as they say, pairing your outside with people sit inside, what’s being done, like are there any projects? Or are there kind of any successful companies or maybe influencers that you can go shopping? Can people see what the truth is? This is not the reality, you have to wake up and stop comparing yourself and let yourself roll and write your own path.
The this is really inspiring podcasts that really helps showcase no failures. I think one thing social media doesn’t show is the failures. And that’s the most important part around any success is the failures because failure is not fatal. It’s part of the journey. And you talk about rejection, use that failure not as a Objection, but as a redirection to the next opportunity that is about opportunity. And part of those philosophies, and those thinkings is my duvet flip. That’s the podcast where we’re getting leaders on their real models. They’re not celebrities, they’re not influencers, they’re real leaders that are that I’ve had experiences, we’ve got this guest coming up soon. She’s moving. She’s been made redundant five times in her career. And so one of the topics will be around, how do you how do you deal with redundancy, the challenges of that, while also being a single mother, and also recently recovering from, from cancer as well. So I think social media needs to really showcase failures, not to say, Oh, look at this person, it failed. We need to champion the failures, because that’s where you learn the most, if you if you go through your life, winning and never failing, when you do have that failure, that’s when your your resilience, your comfort, your confidence muscles have not been built enough, built strong enough to handle it. So my dear flip is, and I’m being cheeky saying that because JAXA hosts his show, but I think it’s such a good way for young people and even business leaders, CEOs watch it and government officials watch it to hear from these levers around confidence, resilience and failure as well.
And I would add in that, that woman that Leon’s talking about, she’s also a chief of she’s Chief Brand Officer for a massive organisation. So she’s she’s done it, she’s been there. Don’t don’t measure your value by someone else’s tape. Is the is the success here is we we measure our values on someone else’s tape and how long their tape is on what they believe successes. We you in the moment and lots social media can be good people get jobs from the economy, in terms of the social media economy has created 1000s of jobs, is their organization’s support in with whether it’s bullying or whether it’s a RASSMAN. Absolutely, and these organisations are great. I just believe that the if we really want to change the social media landscape, we have to change, home. Change starts at home. Look, Facebook is not going to go and do something that’s not in their favour. And their favour is money. Let’s just be blunt. Yeah, Money makes the world go round. And if it doesn’t make the organisation more money, are they going to do it? Are government going to really put a policy in place that really strips these organisations of certain things? No, because that’s how governments promote that what they’re doing on social media. So we’re gonna we’re in a circle. So we’re in, we’re already in the tank. So the plan is, you’re in the tank, it’s got sharks, it got he’s got fishes, and it’s called the Social Media tank. The plan is, is to survive as long as you can in that social media tank. You just can’t get away from it. Now, some people say, Okay, I don’t do social media at all. I respect those people. But not doing social media all is not for everyone. It’s how we communicate with people across the world is how you build your brand. It’s how you’re I never wanted to be a podcast host. I never wanted to do it. I said five episodes, and that would be here. And once I’ve done five episodes, I would never do a podcast again. In terms of my own show. It’s we’re now on season three, we’ve had over nine 9.2 million views on it. We have 55,000 you’ve tuned in every episode is become I’m in the tank. And now it’s like okay, I bet a few fishes and I’ve I’ve sworn away from the shark fishes is how do I now stay in that tank and stay relevant and that’s the cycle you’re in, unfortunately. So you either completely out the tank or you’re in the tank. I don’t think you can do both
is a millennial in my mid 30s. I sometimes look at my son who’s seven year old, even like teenagers and people in their 20s. And I think to myself, oh my god, the fourth generation, they had an abundance of opportunities in front of them. It’s never been easier to start a business to learn a new skill. Everything is out there. It’s free. I was amazed when I saw a 13 year old boy Chris having an interview with shoot and Jack on his own podcast and he was absolutely smashing it. When I was searching, I was reading the news in my bedroom to an imaginary audience and like studying to get into university because that was John proceeds way to gain knowledge and to become successful. You know why? It almost feels like having this pictorial of opportunities in front of you is a bit overwhelming and confusing for young people. It’s a little bit like sheep Trouble in product design, where you offer too many options in front of the user, they be consistently taken longer to reach a decision. What can we do to help young people not to overwhelm to find their path and what they’re passionate about?
Yeah, absolutely. I think you’re absolutely right. There’s a, there’s so many different, there’s a million ways to make a million pounds. And not that everyone is focused on making and becoming a millionaire. But also just understanding that there’s so many different avenues you can go down. And absolutely, it is really overwhelming. What’s the right way of doing it? What ways are going to be easier? How do I know this way is going to be better for me, all these questions that young people are thinking about, it can be really overwhelming, and they end up doing nothing about it. And so from my own experience, I tried loads of different things only mentioned those two projects and businesses that I created. But there was loads of other things I tried in the background I tried to do invest in on the stock market that didn’t work didn’t enjoy it, there’s loads of different things I did. But the one thing I did do is I set the start line, not the deadline, I shortlisted five things, and I just gave it a go. And it’s better to start. Now. Understand, if you don’t like it, you can cross it off the list. And rather than go, Okay, there’s all these different things I do want to do. Just find one, focus on one, invest time in that invest energy. If you’re not enjoying it, then cut it straightaway. And then at least you know, that’s something I don’t want to do. Because it’s equally as important to find out what you don’t like doing as much as you do like doing. And eventually you’ll be able to narrow it down, and opportunities come out come up. Because of that as well. Opportunities tend to dance with those already on the dance floor. So if you’re on the dance floor, and you’re going through an opportunity in whatever avenue you want to go down, that might lead to something else that you are passionate about. Or it might lead to a connection or to a mentor or to a job. So my advice would be, don’t focus on the deadline, focus on the start line. And just start that one thing. You might have three ideas right now that you want to get involved, pick one out of a hat and go I’m gonna commit the next three weeks to learn as much as I can about this. After three weeks, if you’re thinking this isn’t this isn’t my duvet flip. I’m not getting excited about this, cross it off the list. Move on to the next.
Yeah, I would add to Leon’s I totally agree with him in terms of startline not deadline. But also being bored is not bad. People say Oh, I’m bored. Okay, we will get bored. No, I’ve been bored three times. Today, I had to do emails and certain things. And I’m dyslexic. And I find it really difficult to write emails. But I love what I do. And I love the movement. So being bored is not bad. I would also add every role no matter who you are. Whether you’re a singer, like Ed Sheeran, or whether you’re, you’re sweeping the streets, for the local council, every job has cheers and chores. And you just have to make sure that your cheers overweigh your chores. So every morning when I wake up, and I have a team, I have a team that support me in my CEOs office and I go right, what are the what are the chairs that I’ve got to do today? What are the chairs that are going to get me excited like today, this podcast was a cheer for me I get to speak to you gets to share some knowledge and have some fun. And then I’m like, Okay, I’ve got some chores, I’ve got to look at a legal document, I’ve got to catch up with finance. I don’t like finance, but money makes the world go round. And we have to make sure that the money’s making sense that we can pay everyone. So in every role, once you’ve set the start line, not the deadline, and you tried something, start thinking to yourself, and reflecting what are the chairs here, and what the chores. And even if you add one more chair than the chore. So if you had a list of 10, and there were six chairs, and four chores, for success. So in every role, to get young people to pick their opportunities, is to understand that doing something if you get a bit bored, that’s happy we were bored part of our jobs. But look out for those cheers.
I’m glad you said that our meeting later on today is not a chore. And just add as well on that. I totally agree it’s fine. Those chairs and chores. It’s finding out what your brain loves. What does your brain really love? And a chair for me might be a chore for Jack. So understanding that just because something might be a chore for someone else you might go Oh, actually, I really enjoy that. I really enjoy working on that. And whereas others won’t. So also understand what does your brain love? And that’s going to help you then define what Jack said around what are the chairs and what the chores and what you’re working on.
Happiness is your metric. Yeah, absolutely. Also what’s really important is job honesty. Making sure you have job honesty because we don’t judge a job by job description. A lot of them are just copied and pasted. But to really go into that job, give it a bit of time and really think to yourself, Am I happy, and there’s going to be parts of the jobs that you’re not happy in, that happiness should be your metric. Go and bed tired, not drained. If I go a bit tired, not drained every night, I know that I’ve had a good day, I know that I’ve moved forward. Because if you wake up drained, and you might wake up, everyone wakes up. And this is why the concept of my do they flip is that everyone should flip the duvet in the morning to do something, whatever that is, whatever interests you, whether that’s working, whether that’s going on all day, we get that fill in the morning, when we’re about to get on a plane and go on all day with our friends, and all your birthday, you get this sense of excitement in your belly. That is what I want people to have when they get to work. It’s easier said than done. I understand that, but find the chairs, not the chores.
Absolutely. And I like your point that you have to be realistic. I mean, there will be chores, you just get on with it, then you just do it. And you just have to weigh the pros and cons and make sure that you’re moving in the right direction. You meet with 1000s of young people a year. What is it that they need the most now in 2023.
Hope, skills and opportunity. And it comes in that older there’s a lack of hope right now. We’ve got wars, we’ve got cost of living. People are busy thought in their own fight. Where that that means that they can’t give their full self. I want to see more authentic people in the world. I don’t want to see things behind cameras edited down and I want people to be authentic. I want to show the real you I want to do you know what before this, I’ve had such a busy morning. And I had to eat like I had to only after my lunch so I could do this. But you know what? I’m fasting. So I’ve got my fast so I’ve got this to do. But you can’t you I’m a big believer, turn up no matter how fast your days moving. When your your days moving at pace, turn up with grace. And I believe everyone young person needs a turn up to their day with grace, turn up to the interviewing with grace, turn up to everything. So hope is really important. Without hope, what do we really have? When someone goes into play for football on the football team, you have hope that you’re gonna win. The goalie has hope the striker has hope. So we need to build that sense of hope. People who are watching that game who turn it up to I’m a West Ham fan turned up to Westham to the stadium. You do it because you build the hope that we’re going to win today. So it starts with hope. Next. Next, it’s the skill. Is there a lack of skill or is there a lack of will? Because I believe skill can be taught Yes, some people never gonna be dancers or singers or good at speaking and there’s introverted and extroverts I’m an extrovert. You know what, on the weekend I have my introverted days, I like to be an introvert, I like to not be bothered, I like to be on my own, I like to be all digital away. So is it a lack of skill or lack of will, because I believe you can train skill, but you have to train the skills that you believe will help you earn and thrive. No one thrives for free, unfortunately, in life, and to not fly for free, you have to have a skill set that will help you get paid for what you do help you get to the next stage. So really focus yourself on three skills that will really make it work for you. And then opportunity. It all boils down to opportunity. You just don’t know who you’re going to bump into who you’re going to speak to how you’re going to really immerse yourself in an opportunity. And I’m a big believer, if you’re always arrogant, you’re always wrong. So just humble yourself a bit. My mom was an alcoholic. But one thing I did take from her as Jack to is one mouth for a reason.
I would add as well. And I love that story as well, Jack when you share that I think it’s really inspiring. And I would add another thing that young people really need right now is navigation, because you get what you aim for. And young people right now they’re lacking in navigation they’re lacking on how to get from A to B. So if they’ve not got that navigation and not got the aim, they’re not going to get it and you are what you do. So one thing that young people really need right now is that navigation, how do they find out the right journey for them? Because everyone’s journey is unique, and how do they get the right support for each stage in the process? We have a community of 1.7 million young people aged 18 to 30 we They focus on age we focus on stage, what stage are they at right now? What support do they need in that moment? And how can we best support them to get to that next stage. And we do that across our community. So I think, as well as hope, skill and opportunity that Jack said, source of the navigation is how you navigate to the to that hope for that skill. And that opportunity.
And I will add to that comfort is the enemy of growth. It doesn’t matter how much growth and no one might see it as success. But just that one marginal 1%, doing something different, like for instance, I’m not trying to drink two litres of water a day without fail. I’ve stopped English breakfast tea, two years ago, and add about 15 cups a day, I’ve stopped that it’s made me feel better, all that milk in that tea, no good for you. Just little growth moments is really, really important. And you have to define what’s winning to you in that moment. Because what’s winning to someone else, you know, someone going on the football pitch. Being on that football pitch, even they lose the game is a one is a win. Because they’re on their own, they they’ve been chosen out the other out of the 11. They’re the one out of the other 10 on the pitch to me in turn on their team that to me, they’re a winner. So define what’s winning to you in that moment is really important in life.
We keep talking about the skills gap. What young people are currently being taught in universities and school is very different from what is expected from them when they start their first job. And with AI. Now, this gap will keep growing and what do you think? So who is going to offer this navigation that you mentioned Leon easy universities? Do they need to adapt their curriculum? Or shall we think of kind of more apprenticeship programmes where employers are helping young people to close this skills gap?
Great question. At the end of the day, young people are going to either start their own business or work for a business. So I feel that the decisions and we’re not the decisions, but the focus needs to be on employers to help because education is such a big machine. We’re trying to make a machine of a movement here at youth group, when it comes to opening opportunities for young people, helping companies connect with young people to try and change that machine is hard. So you need to build your own machine. I think companies and employers can do this really well. They know what they want in terms of talent. And people, they know what skills they need to learn, it’s just then helping them bridge the gap between what young people don’t have, and how you get them to a level where they have got the skill. That doesn’t mean the employer has to go the full way is meeting them halfway in the middle. Yes, young people need to get off at some, some, some young people need to get off the sofa and meet the employer halfway and have the curious curiosity to want to learn to want to grow. We have this this framework, whenever a young person joins our community, they must pass that ABCD criteria. We built this so that when we’re putting forward young people to employers, that young people that are ready to work, and they got the ability, and that’s a is for ability of into the sort of the attitude to that the attitude to work that other curious enough to they want to come in? Are they ready to give it a go? B is all around being ready? Do they have the right digital skills to come into the workplace? And if they don’t, then we support with that C is around curiosity? Do they ask questions? Do they? Are they someone who just gets given a bit of work and go yep, call and get on with it? Or do they ask questions about what what’s the purpose of this? Why are we doing this? How can I do this the best? And indeed, it’s all around the digital skills that we mentioned, how do you build young people’s digital skills? So when they go into the workplace, they understand how to use those platforms or software’s not learn the software’s but understand basic technology. So when they go in, they can pick it up quite quickly. So going back to your question, I think it starts with employers, because they’re going to be the ones that move quickest to actually make it happen. Not that it should be on them. But I think they just have to take bite the bite the bullet and helpless and do that. And then hopefully, that then inspires education reform, and all sorts that way. But I think going from education first is not realistic, because of the scale of the change. Unless you’ve got someone like Jack who I don’t he’s not mentioned this or anything. He hasn’t got plans to but I think Jack if you were running the country, I think you’d be able to change the education like that. It would work pretty good.
Well got a lot of change outside first. But talking about education look, Leon us in the room, I had the education secretary over my home, and they said you can’t hug the world. And my response was but we have to hug something. And young people need a hug right now. When it comes to skills. The only thing that doesn’t change is change. I understand Man, and I just think there needs to be some sustainability when it comes to policy. And we need some outside thinking when it comes to government. Look, I support the government. I’m, I’m pro government when it comes to some of the fantastic things they do for entrepreneur and business. But some of the things they do are so backwards that they need to just be scrap examples. And I understand scrap, I understand some things are harder to scrap just like that. For instance, employers right now are really struggling to spend their apprenticeship Levy. There’s this apprenticeship levy that companies have to attacks that they have to lie by if they’re if their wage bill is more than 3 million companies are really struggling to really spend their Levy. And that is really, really hurt in and hindering the opportunities when it comes to apprenticeships for young people to actually do these opportunities. Because companies are going oh, we can’t spend the levy. We can’t get the young people in because the apprenticeship levy is not kind of linking in with what we need. So no one gets help. So they end up putting everyone on an apprenticeship and those opportunities and then not given to young people in a meaningful way, even though I believe opportunities should be for everyone. So I think that’s one thing. Another thing is government do some really good things like the kickstart scheme, I believe that was brilliant. It was given loads and loads of opportunities to young people 250,000 opportunities were created. But only 122,000 opportunities were actually filled. Why? Because government over engineered it. It became too political as a someone’s idea. And the kickstart scheme had a face to it, where it had a face on it by Rishi Sunak, that it was delivered by the Department of workplace pensions. Now, they both got different agendas, you’d think the government would want to be aligned. But at the end of the day, politics is politics. So how can you build action, speed, action and speed will make you succeed? Under 25,000 123,000 opportunities did not get filled with people who needed jobs. I think that’s I think that’s so, so disappointing. And I think we need to chat start there, start doing more of the stuff that works. Don’t over engineer it, and bring business in where needed to make the boat go faster.
Right. So you meet with CEOs, employers, high level management, what are the top skills that employers need in 2023. And when I say top skills, I mainly mean hard skills, just because things like curiosity, and just being kind of genuinely enthusiastic, it’s not something you can necessarily teach. How about the excuse more code is missing at the moment that if somebody’s listening to this podcast, it might just spark an idea for them, maybe I should pursue a career in this field.
So from my perspective, the world is moving so quick technology. AI is obviously on every article. It’s all over Twitter. It’s something that everyone’s talking about. Now, for young people who are not tech savvy, or don’t know how to programme, they might be thinking, Oh, well, I can’t do it, I can’t get involved. But you can, I do not come from a techie background at all, my brother is the smart one, the intelligent one, I’m more than just I will try and figure it out as I go. And a few years ago, I come across something called no code. I don’t know if you’ve heard no code as you probably have. And that is such a powerful way for anyone. That mountain no matter how much experience you have with building applications or technologies, you can learn and build products, digital products, without having to code at all. And so I would encourage young people to learn about no code, build a fun little little app or project and just give it a go. Learning how to build a product doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be a product that’s that you sell or services, but the learnings you’ll get from building that product and that journey finding out okay, this is this is the limitation of no code. Well, how can I do work around what communities are out there that I can speak to you to learn more, and it’s a great way for someone to work on a physical projects. I’m someone who learns by doing rather than by theory, so if you’re someone who’s learned by doing as well, having a go at playing around with no code tools, if you just type no code, you’ll come up with loads of different different tools. I would say young people need to look at that because technology is not not going anywhere. And if got someone who’s got the technical believe, with computer science degrees or anything like that go the no code route, because most companies are going that way anyway with no code and AI. So I think, from my perspective on what’s worked well for me, if going through that no code journey, that’d be my my tip.
From my point of view, it would be two things. Time management is so important. And if you’re not five minutes early, you’re already late. in anything you do, literally, I believe the lack of understanding that young people have when it comes to time management, like in terms of you’re going to set a deadline for a project or a product, deliver it on time, like when we worked with Pony two years ago, every project was on time, there were structure that you could say, you’ve got something to do with that great account management there. But everything was on time. And then that builds trust. And then trust builds you to do the next thing. So time management and project management, knowing how to actually project manage something is really important. And then the other one is communication. The manner things I’ve seen gone wrong from tech teams, product teams, marketing teams, external exploit exploiters when they come in working with an agency, all because communication lacks, and I think you can’t be anything than over communicating, right? Because we’ve got so many things on our phones these days, young people lack how to communicate. So if they could get time management, communication, no code, and understanding the digital of the basics of digital transformation. I think they will be employable anywhere and everywhere.
Absolutely fantastic advice. I love what you said here for time management, it’s really usually a reflection of so many things, how organised a person is, how diligent they will be in their work, and so many other things this speaks to that. I honestly cannot undo the importance of a good time management. How do you think Gen Z differ from millennials and older generations? Do you have like any observations? Are they any different, or we just kind to probably like to over intellectualise, the topic at that there any special they’re probably just the same people just.
So one thing that comes to mind is trust, trust in technology, trust in people, I think younger people and Gen Z generation are more willing to trust organisations, platforms when they’re signing up. Now we have we have two sides of the community, we have young people who join our community. And then we have employers and mentors. Now, when we’re when they’re joining our platform, a mentor has to obviously share a bit of information about them. And that can be something where they are sometimes hesitant to share certain information, young people, they’ll just share everything. You don’t you haven’t asked for everything, but they will just share it all. They’re more willing to trust technology. And I think that gives them the edge in terms of when they’re looking to join an organisation or when they’re using on learning software’s online, they trust them more, they’re just more willing to give these technologies that goes I think that’s that’s the first thing. Jack, what would you add?
I totally agree in terms of that. The adoption to trust and adopting a new piece of technology or a product is a lot quicker than other generations. However, it is also a lot quicker to be counselled. And the Gen said generation will cancel will cancel or brand a product or solution or a person. If it doesn’t align with their values. If it doesn’t align with the climate change, you’re doing well, or it doesn’t have any noble cause towards it. And we’ve seen it recently with a number of brands online. Like for instance, a lot of people are cancelling wicks last week, because of certain stuff has happened. I obviously know the wick wicks bald over there. And it’s, it’s, it’s you have to be so careful because the we’ve got access to everything. And Jen said, generation will will make a decision a lot quicker, whether they want to be loyal, or disloyal to a brand based on what they’re doing for the community.
And it’s fantastic change I think we see coming in front of us probably kinds of rewriting of what we consider success. I love this topic that for us and I’ve discussed this with other guests on this podcast, but first millennials and older generation it’s always been about you In so many is kind of Jiong I don’t generally think that shows that you’re successful, is it, maybe there are other things that are the values that will keep kind of growing and taking place of this kind of material world, they tend to be living, of course not to believe we have to have like businesses running smoothly and profitable. But maybe there are other ways to define success.
So you can you can make money while doing good, as well as understanding. And I think young people do understand that they want to support a brand that’s making money, while creating good impact doing good things to the community supporting a cause that they care about, I think they’re more susceptible to If that changes, then they’ll change with it kind of thing.
And young people, Jen said they want to make money. But do they really? And this is question I’ve got, do they really understand what money is? And the lack of financial wellbeing, the lack of financial education in schools, and back it back, what I hear from the older generation is that this is money. This is a pan coin, you pay your rent, this is what taxes this is, right now, we are 1000s and 1000s of youth that don’t need don’t understand what national insurances, they don’t even have bank accounts when they come to us. And so I think there’s a lack of understanding on the good and bad side of money. Because I believe there is always good and bad side side of money in anything, you can do good with money, you can live, you can eat, but also money can buy back by bad things as well. So I just think that we need some more education around what money is the value of money? I think Jensen have got it put, you’re totally right. Jensen got it perfectly right when it comes to it’s not just about money. And it’s about other stuff. And it’s about how I feel when making sure we’re doing good for the climate and the planet. But I also think there’s also a lack of understanding what money actually means. And what that means in today’s world still, for that generation.
We’re still lacking any financial education in schools in secondaries, I think that should be illegal. We need to prepare young people, even if they don’t study economic security, how to work with kind of everyday expenses, as you mentioned, national insurance to pay the taxes. What is the tax system in the country? You’re not just like shocking. Why are we not educating people more when it comes to finance?
It is shocking. Liam, what’s your point of view on this? Because I’m very passionate about this. I believe banks have a role to play government have a role to play education. I think parents have a role to play. I think, I think we have a role to play. I think everyone has a role to play. But like, if you if you were to say, give me a money, influencer, you think of Martin Lewis, that is for the older generation. That’s all you think of who’s the young, but I think there’s a big space anyone listening out who wants an idea, there’s a big space for a money influencer, who is young, edgy, to come into the space, and just like demystify everything. What does pensions mean? How do I get a pension? What is insurance? Or what is the pension gap? I think there’s so much for an influencer to come in, or what they call a crater these days, it’s got gone past the influencer days. Now. The craters, there’s, there’s a room for a money career to come in, and really educate the next generation on what it means to manage your money, fry for your money, and look after your money and earn it earn money as well. You can’t look after your money if you don’t earn it.
And also understanding when you’ve earned the money, how do you best save it or invest it and spend it? And yes, absolutely you should spend when you get a bit of money because you’ve earned that bit of money, you should reward yourself but also understand don’t spend it all and understand, okay, when I’m spending this money, have I taken into account that I’m going to be paying for national insurance or that an attacker is going to come off before I get the final amount? So I totally agree with Jack there. We have a same around building your money powers. How can you build your money powers so that wherever you are, it’s a transferable skill doesn’t out what you’re doing. Have the money powers to be able to manage your money, invest it in the right way, understand how far that money needs to take you to your next bit of money as well because again, it’s that forward thinking that projection that forecasting and those just the skills around managing your money, it’s going to help you in the workplace, doing your own business when you if you’re if you’ve got a business and you’re starting your own business, you got to manage the bank even more focused on making sure you got enough to pay for software’s for your staff. Those How do you build the money powers of young people and grinding it in that way, because some of the I think, you know, financial literacy is I think it’s an old literacy is quite an older term. So branding in a way that’s more youthful, where the young people are going to engage a bit more speak the language and youth speak the terms and what young people are going to are using, because then you’re going to relate to them a lot more.
Money is not a dirty word. But in British culture, we see it as a dirty word a bit like a bit, a bit like British culture doesn’t embrace failure as much as America does. Or another country and other countries. And I believe money is not a dirty word. I think young people need salary clarity, when it comes to salary. I’m a big believer put that put the put how much you’re paying on a job description. And that could be a salary band. That’s okay. So your competitors don’t know, we know companies go I don’t want to put a salary on because it’s their competitors. We’ll see what I’m paying. We’ll have a salary band easy done. So I think there needs to be some salary clarity. I think we need to get over that money is a dirty word. There’s there’s a lot of shame around money when it in the in the workplace. Yeah, I’m not saying everyone put a pan sign in there and say this is how much I’m worth. But I think there needs to be more transparency when it comes to people and money. And we’ve not got time today for this podcast. But don’t get me started on women getting paid less than men. That’s a whole new thing that we could talk about.
You’ve got, you’ve got the right hospital. That’s awesome. So another topic, I wanted to kind of quickly touch base on with you guys, before I let you go is. So when I think of young people, first picture that comes to mind would be a young apprentice bustling in a busy woman office or in another major city. And I have been thinking recently that we kind of tend to overlook people who are from or who have chosen to live in more rural areas. And what can we do? Employers, maybe the government and as a whole society to make sure that opportunities are spread evenly, or at least to create more opportunities outside of bigger cities.
The there’s so many things that could be done. And again, I’m a big believer that focus on everything, you focus on nothing. So what’s the focus on that one thing? What’s that one thing that could help? The easiest one I can think of is around remote working. Now COVID has really transitioned that to be remote working. When I when I was growing up in my home, see, only look for opportunities in that city. But now you can look for opportunities in different city but still live there. So I think it’s understanding and explaining to young people that just because you live in one area, doesn’t mean you can go for jobs in other areas. That’s the that’s the quick win. That’s something that you can turn around quick asking employees to move all their jobs outside of London or elsewhere. That’s a longer longer challenge and bigger challenge to solve. One is around how can you maybe set the location of the job to different cities, because actually, it’s a remote role anyway, so it doesn’t matter where then you’re going to attract young people from different cities that they wouldn’t otherwise be looking for. I think that would be my my one there.
I would say there’s, there’s, there’s no such thing as a dream location. I know a lot of people look at London as the success but you can have success in Manchester, Newcastle, you can have success in Scotland, Wales everywhere. And I think you have to everything’s about compromise in life. Something that you get, there’s something you have to give. Now, you might say I want to stay local. And that means that might mean that there’s a less, less salary at the moment. And that’s obviously changing with the government’s level and up strategy. If people Hurry up, I like to make things move quick. But you know what? Ask these questions. Ask the questions. If you do see a role as advertised in London, and it’s something you really want be bold enough to message and put in your cover letter law. I do not live in London, I have no plans to come into London. But would you consider remote opportunity, if I could prove a b and c. And I think that’s what we need to be we need to be more bold, we see a job description and we go okay in London needs this level of experience. Yet again, don’t be defined by the boxes. My first job I did not get. They said I went to an assessment day. They said I didn’t have the skills or the degree, either an email into that company. And I said, I just want to say thank you so much for the opportunity for letting me come with my peers, learning about other people from all walks of life. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to present myself. I know I did not get this opportunity is three things that I’ve reflected on that I believe I will improve in the next time. Rand, thank you. They came back and said we would like you to come and meet our managing director within a week hired the job that started my career. A in the world of talent and recruitment, which has led me on to run in the youth group today. So sometimes don’t take no as the first answer. But there’s a very fine line between being bold. And then just being goddamn annoying. And you have to find the balance between because people do have busy lives. Don’t disrespect someone’s application process. But if you do need tweaks in it, be bold enough, in a graceful and kind way, I’m a big believer on kindness. On just asking the employer, would they reconsider? Or would they consider something else in a meaningful way? But if you do not get an opportunity, move forward. Don’t dwell on it. Don’t get upset. Yes, have a moment to mourn. And every one I’m a big believer in when someone’s mourning, give them a moment to mourn, whether it’s a job or a rejection. But like Leon said, rejection is redirection in everything in life, and that’s from trying to set up a bank account with one bank. If NatWest rejection, go to Barclays, there are Monzo there’s loads of digital banks now. So everything has a redirection to it. Don’t see it as rejection sit as redirection.
Amazing, good advice. It was an absolute pleasure having this chat with you guys. And I think the country needs more role models like you your songs operational, you’re so humble. You’re fun. You’re a pleasure to be around. So I really, thank you for your time today. But before I let you go, What sir in juvie flip. What’s the first thing you guys do in the morning? That gets you going? You don’t think you’re going to escape this question? Right?
You swung it right back to me. So my duvet flip changes all the time based on climate what I’ve got in my schedule. But one thing that doesn’t change is I want to wake up every morning, knowing I can have an impact on my own health, an impact on the community around me, and an impact on the planet and the world. They’re the three things I fry for every day. Did I did I become 1%? Better? In my health? I think health is everything. Yeah. So how can I be better in my health? Did I take do more steps? Secondly, is the community look after people? You know what, when you’re going into a shop, you know what, put yourself out there and wait for someone to come out the shop before you go in? Yeah, the rudeness of people just barging in, when someone’s trying to get out a smaller space, be considerate. smile at someone the thing of a smile. And I’m not saying go around smiling everyone and be careful who you smile at. Because if a young woman’s on their own, don’t go smiling at them just be pleasant. Yeah. But be kind in everything you do. Nothing is nothing is weird, or odd. It’s just different. You go into a coffee shop and you see someone serving you. They’re not lower than you. They’re actually really smart, because one of them might be just studying to become the next scientists that that creates the cure for the next cancer, or the pandemic. So be nice to everyone, and then do your pet bit to make the world a better place. And it all starts with one. Help someone reach out. Go back a nice, the man of emails that I see that people don’t address people with their first name. And they just go high. Always start the email with high and the person’s name like that. I mean, the interview starts as soon as you apply for the job. Absolutely. And that goes for all and that’s what we say is he doesn’t start when the interview starts. It starts as soon as you apply. But this podcast started as soon as you kindly said, Oh, we’d like you to come on. Show me the graceful and the team and how to make it easy for people make life easy. So I wake up with a do they flip with those three things.
Leon How about you?
God if I can top that one, that’s a really good movie flip. Buying. I’m I’ve said that for hours. I’m a curious person. I love learning. And every day I wake up, knowing that the more I learn, the more I realise, I don’t know. And that excites me because there’s so much more to learn. I like to have these curious conversations with people at least once a week a curious conversation where I’m not selling or buying from someone we’re just having a curious conversation to learn about them, their experience their journey, and you know, what can I take from that to then bring back to youth group and and bring that to our community of young people. So my mind Divi Philip is having his curious conversations to learn from the news that help more young people get into work
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