Training and Employability

Young People Give More Back

New figures from the consultancy nfpSynergy show more and more young people are volunteering their time.

Over the past 13 years, participation rates have risen from 15% to 29% in August this year. 16 – 34 year-olds are now more likely to give their time than any other age group.

The benefits of volunteering are clear. Not only does it allow young people to develop new skills and experience, and network with more people, it also has a palpable effect on local and global communities.

What the figures also show is an evident commitment amongst young people to give back to their communities and to contribute to positive change in the world.

Training and Employability

Controlling Education, Controlling Futures: Whose Voices Should Be Heard?

What if students could have more of a say in their GCSE choices? What if they could influence syllabus content and how they are assessed?

This might sound like a radical idea, but why should our current education systems not be shaped by those inside them? Why not let young people choose how their futures are formed? After all, education does just that: it creates and shapes the futures of those within it.

The prevailing suspicion remains that given the choice, young people will opt for the easy option, or at least not act within their own interests. However, a recent, in-depth study by Queen’s University Belfast has been able to categorically denounce these long-held beliefs, finding instead that ‘students have the capacity to make considered judgements and do not automatically opt for what they perceive as the easiest option.’1 Moreover, the study was able to recommend that young people should be given a consulting voice in decisions about their education at a national, school and individual level.

If we accept these findings, we are presented with a new set of intriguing possibilities around the management of both curriculum inequality and subject choice. Reimagining choice in education as a dialogue between pupil and teacher is one avenue to explore, as is the behaviour and decision-making of pupils in an environment of opportunities. Key to all of this is that young people feel that they are heard through their education and that decisions and policies are made in their interest and not that of more powerful stakeholders.


Inequalities and the curriculum: young people’s views on choice and fairness through their experiences of curriculum as examination specifications at GCSE (accessed 25/07/17)1


Training and Employability

Caught in a Brexit Void?

With Brexit looming, the UK’s divorce of the EU seems to be a never-ending source of material for newspapers, discussion groups, individual commentators and television shows alike. Barely a day goes by without new updates on the negotiations, with headlines full of the latest comments, statements and japes of our leading politicians. But how is the process affecting our young people, whose futures rely on the success or failure of these proceedings? One year on, how are the young people of the UK who on referendum day turned out to vote in their multitudes to make their voices heard, feeling about their prospects today?

Two days ago the British Youth Council released a report ( addressing these exact questions and the findings reflect the conversations we’ve been having here at Phoenix Social Enterprise with the young people we support. Many of our participants, old and new, have been in touch to express their concerns over the current instability of the UK and the uncertainty of what will happen, and what the country will look like, over the next few years and beyond. Issues from employment opportunities, to investment in mental health care, to increased racism, hate crimes and discrimination have all been brought to us. Indeed, the British Youth Council found that 50% of young people felt the world was changing for the worst, with only 35% feeling it was changing for the better.

Many young people seemingly feel as though they are caught in the void of the UK’s rift with the EU, with little representation from those who currently hold the power in our country. However, the shock results of the most recent election show what can happen when so many of these voices come together, and our discussions indicate that young people will continue to speak up. It is also crucial that agencies, charities and enterprises that are currently tackling the issues that young people face continue to provide the support that young people need to do this, by listening to concerns, sign-posting and advising.