Is your talent strategy truly youth-friendly?

Is your talent strategy truly youth-friendly?

(Photo Credit: Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash)

For as long as I can remember I’ve loved working with, and on behalf of, our young people - my own journey working with them directly starting back in 2006 when I took my first steps into a classroom in Ilford, Essex, as a participant on the Teach First programme. Back then I was probably more worried about being found out as a ‘phoney’ having, at that point, only had six weeks of intensive teacher training at the blistering heat of the charity’s summer institute in Canterbury. What I remember the most from my first few days as I stood at the front of each new class and introduced myself was an immense feeling of pride and responsibility. No matter whether it was just one-hour each week that I had with these students I wanted to make a difference. To add value to their lives and to help them become the best version of themselves that they could become.

A trip down memory lane


I only have to look at the amazing young woman that Jamala Osman (who I taught for two years back at Loxford School of Science and Technology and was reunited with at the end of last year) who is now lighting up the sky with her smile and sharing her amazing story of resilience and empowerment of positive change, to know that no matter how scattered, informed and impartial, careers advice may be in the UK, our young people are amazing and need our support to help them flourish and succeed. For me, this means we, collectively, need to be doing a lot more to adopt youth-friendly practices into our recruitment and talent development strategies to ensure that we harness this power for the greater good. It’s one of the main reasons that I founded The Branding Man after all.

Jamala is a fantastic example of a young person with a huge heart, and someone who is using her passion ‘to give back’ - it was truly a privilege to hear about her transformation (and if you haven’t heard her story already then you can watch her speaking at TEDx London last year here) and plans for the future. I was so inspired by her that I’ve even hunted out the telephone number for my old Geography teacher, the one who inspired me to study the subject at university before moving on to teaching it, who I plan to catch up with whilst I’m back in the Lake District over the next few weeks. More to come there I suspect!

The Youth-Friendly Award

I first heard about Youth Employment UK after meeting their incredible CEO Laura-Jane Rawlings over 5 years ago (maybe you spotted her grilling MP Esther McVey on BBC Question Time last year - I can remember cheering her on from the sofa at the time). Back then I spotted the synergies between their work and what I was focusing on as part of the apprenticeship brand and attraction strategy at EY. Their mission which includes giving young people a voice and empower them to be prepared for the world of work, as well as helping organisations to be better equipped to support them by adopting youth-friendly principles and ensuring government policy is geared towards the real needs of young people. So when I left EY last year and founded The Branding Man, a business founded on very similar values and the same passion running through its veins, I couldn’t wait to get more involved by agreeing to partner with them as their London delivery partner.

But what does being ‘youth-friendly’ mean? Essentially you will be committed to, and able to show evidence of:

  • Championing ‘youth voice’

  • Creating opportunity (focusing on diversity, skills and providing valuable experiences of work)

  • Recognising the talent that young people bring to your organisation

  • Fair employment practices that remove barriers to the workplace (perceived or otherwise)

  • Developing young people and encouraging them to take ownership for their own learning

The Youth Friendly Award

The Youth Friendly Award is a quality kite mark that provides employers with a means to benchmark, assess and be recognised for your current strategy. It will also support you to attract a diverse pool of future talent to ensure you get best value from your recruitment, training and development strategies. The award assesses organisations against a best practice framework and is recognised by government and supported by organisations such as WorldSkills UK and Movement to Work, and is held by a range of organisations including McDonald’s and Coca-Cola.

Get in touch if you’re interested in finding out more by visiting the Contact Me page and let’s start an important conversation to help more young people find the right career for them, and together we can watch them fly!

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‘Behind the Brand’ Consulting

Whether you are an employer interested in developing impactful future talent attraction strategies or looking to better educate young people with content that speaks their language, I offer a range of services designed to suit those who are new to early careers, looking to improve existing brand activity or keen to extend their reach and influence.

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