IntoUniversity operate local learning centres in communities where young people are growing up in poverty and where they are least likely to go on and study after age 18. Our expertise, and the reason we were invited to give evidence to the Pearson Forum, is in how background can shape young peoples’ destinies and how we can overcome any negative impacts. We currently run 30 centres in England and Scotland and are looking to set up more, in Hull, Great Yarmouth, Salford and Peterborough.
It is still sadly the case that the best predictor of future success for young people is household income and of course income may be a proxy for other things that are going on in a young person’s life. It can surprise some that compared to this, schools have relatively little influence over a young person's future. There is therefore huge scope for third sector organisations, like ourselves, to be working with young people to make them aware of the opportunities open to them, and to support them to progress. 'Big City Bright Future' is an example of one of our London-based programmes which supports access to financial services and legal careers. We learn much about what works from the feedback of the young people who attend. They invariably value the opportunity to network, the confidence they build by speaking to people in industry, teamwork and presentation skills, and mentors. Most importantly we teach them to believe they can succeed. They are taught they have a lot to offer a business. And in fact, what they bring with them in terms of their background is valuable to business. Quite often it isn’t a lack of a skills set that hold young people back. It is a lack of belief in themselves. And this can be self-fulfilling prophecy.
Between 2020 and 2030, there are going to be an additional one million 18-year-olds, and this means the environment is going to be so much more competitive, particularly for those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Giving all young people the tools and the confidence to set out a credible plan to get them where they want to go is key.