Before Covid-19 hit we saw regular reports and news articles hailing record employment levels across the country. And while it was certainly true that more people than in the years before were in work, there were still many communities suffering under the weight of unemployment. Those communities, the aspirational young women and girls within them, and all those without access to opportunities, remain in a precarious position as the impact of Covid-19 continues to intensify.

As it does, the Youth Unemployment Committee calls on the Government to do more to enhance employment opportunities for young people in England. As a small but rapidly growing charity, working on the front line among young women and girls with limited access to equal opportunity, we see first-hand how important consistent and renewed support to up-skill our young people is.

They say it’s who you know

We often see that those without connections to certain industries or the working world experience the greatest difficulty when it comes to employment and career opportunities. It often goes back to that familiar saying - it’s not what you know, but who. At The Girls’ Network, we believe both are important, and that you should be able to have access to high quality networks and knowledge, regardless of gender or background. 

The girls we meet every day are smart and ambitious, and by pairing them with a woman who has herself established a career, we’re giving them access to someone with first-hand insight and experience into how to overcome barriers present in the working world. 

As part of an inclusive, 12-month programme of mentoring we introduce young women to professionals working across a whole range of sectors, and we invite them to take part in skills workshops, Q&A’s and panels with experts in their field. Our mentors, the dedicated women who take time out of their day-to-day lives to meet with and inspire their mentees, are often well-connected and utilise those ties to enhance the learning and skills of the young person they’re supporting.

It’s about sustainability not short-term solutions

Support schemes for young people are often limited by their timescales, but access to resources and opportunities continue to be essential regardless of age or stage. As a charity working with young people to help them have the future they choose for themselves, we recognise that just because someone has had access to one hopefully transformative initiative, they still require support, and so we endeavour to ensure they can continue to access it.

At the end of their mentoring journey, mentees are invited to become ambassadors and become part of a community that is there for them, always. One where they can attend workshops, access advice and be connected to employment opportunities without limitations or caveats. The community celebrates choice, with ambassadors invited to dip in and out and access our resources at a time that suits them best. Giving young people the opportunity to take the reins on their future, while lending a helping hand, is often the missing link and one we focus on as our network grows. 

We’re looking at future leaders

The young women we work with may not always have the advantages afforded to others, but their aspirations and dreams for the future can rival any. Every day we see the determination and resilience of young people to not only overcome the societal barriers facing them, but actively dismantle them. We’re looking at future leaders, and if we can come together to increase and produce more consistent, high-quality opportunities for those young people, then the future looks a whole lot brighter. 

Working collaboratively, across sectors and through government, to elevate young voices, prioritise them, and seek to enhance their horizons, we can give every young person access to the opportunities they deserve.