As the UK begins to figure out what the country may look like post-COVID, many are concerned for young people who have felt a significant economic impact caused by the crisis. The latest figures show that 23% of young people (18-30 years old) have been furloughed with a further 9% losing their jobs completely. This does not take into account those currently leaving education into a job market with the highest levels of youth unemployment in a generation. However, Midlands based social enterprise Birmingham Enterprise Community (BEC) have rapidly acted in order to offer much needed support for young people to help them rebuild their career prospects through an innovative new development programme which hopes to teach them the skills they need for a post-COVID world.

The Skills for Tomorrow Project will entrepreneurially upskill young people aged 18-30 years old by taking them through a virtual month long development programme designed to help to build key entrepreneurial competencies. The programme will include expert-led workshops, group mentoring and access to a range of digital learning materials. By the end of the month, participants will have developed a virtual portfolio providing evidence of their development in several entrepreneurial competence areas throughout the programme. 

So how does this help these young participants in the long-term? The programme has been designed with two outcomes in mind. Participants will gain a foundational understanding of entrepreneurship which they may use to explore starting their own business to create a future opportunity of their own. Alternatively, having been upskilled participants will have also increased their employability and may look for opportunities to deploy these new skills in a workplace setting. Businesses large and small in a post-COVID world will be looking to find new opportunities and find their place in changed markets meaning a greater need for employees with entrepreneurial abilities. Those who have been through the Skills for Tomorrow programme will have highly valuable skills to offer employers – helping them to rebuild their career prospects post-COVID. 

BEC are one of around 800 organisations chosen from 8,600 applications to receive up to £50,000 from a £40 million pound fund created to develop new projects and services designed to boost economic recovery from the impact of COVID-19. This was part of a larger £1.25 billion coronavirus package first announced by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak to help UK businesses driving innovation and development.

Speaking about this funding, Innovate UK Executive Chair Dr Ian Campbell, said: “The COVID-19 situation affects not only the nation’s health but also the economy and society. Businesses from all over the UK answered our call rapidly to meet the challenges we face today and in the future through the power of innovation. The ideas we have seen can truly make a significant impact on society, improve the lives of individuals, especially those in vulnerable groups and enable innovative businesses to prosper in challenging circumstances.”

“We have always seen benefits for young people who have taken the opportunity to develop entrepreneurial skills but now these skills have taken on a whole new level of importance! The world has a lot of challenges that require bright entrepreneurial people to solve and that is exactly what the Skills for Tomorrow Project is set up to develop. The young people on the programme can then go out into the world and use their new skills to open doors and tackle the challenges they feel passionate about” commented BEC CEO Daniel Evans. 
The Skills for Tomorrow Project will work with 100 young people during 2020 who will be provided with a fully funded place to take part in the programme. Participants must be aged 18 – 30 years old, currently living in the UK and should be able to example how their career prospects have been affected by COVID-19. Anyone interested in taking part in the programme should register their interest here