Help me please’ - That’s the simple, yet gut wrenchingly powerful note a young person put in the comment section of our ‘Youth Voice’ survey. The survey asked our community of young people, who are all talented and motivated but from disadvantaged backgrounds, how they felt in this current crisis brought on by COVID-19. Not good, was the response. In fact, almost all of our young people now feel pessimistic about being able to access paid professional experiences.

For the last 25 years, The Brokerage has worked with hundreds of corporate partners on shifting the dial on social mobility. We have designed and delivered high impact-programmes that have seen “our” community of young people accessing professional jobs in the City, a place that is notoriously hard to crack for outsiders. It’s been a win-win: our young people got jobs in banks, law firms and insurance companies they never even dared to dream of and our partners got talent from different backgrounds that they would have struggled to find otherwise. Most recently, in response to corporate demand, we have developed plans to ensure a more systematic change to the way companies source and include talent. All of this is now at stake.

This cohort of young people, let’s call them Generation 2020, is at a very crucial point in their life between education and work. Generation 2020 is at risk of becoming a ‘lost generation’ if we don’t act fast. This is particularly true for young people from non-privileged backgrounds that we know will suffer the most. With an unprecedented economic future ahead, those families in lower income and less secure jobs will be the hardest hit. Our young people often have caring responsibilities, less access to technologies and need the support of the educational structure they are now missing. They don’t have the networks that will allow them to access professional jobs without the support of the education system and they also risk to fare worse than their more privileged peers when missing out on exams.

The term the ‘Lost Generation’ is used to refer to the generation of people who reached adulthood during or immediately following World War 1. The carnage of the war, their experiences and the social upheaval of the time left them directionless, disillusioned and without any stability. It would be wrong to compare the crisis brought on by COVID-19 to war. But when we are talking to our young people they describe similar emotions of powerlessness and lack of direction, as work opportunities disappear:

“I just wanted to ask is there no other options going forward (…) I'm just not sure where I should go from here…” (response of a young person who had their placement cancelled)

It is clear that our young people need us now more than ever. This is why we are launching the Generation 2020 Fund to help us create new content relevant to our new world, and provide our wide range of masterclasses, workshops and mentoring in digital formats. But this isn’t just about technology. What we do can’t be translated into an automatic algorithm; our success lies in the quality of our relationships and the bespoke approach we take. To remain true to what makes The Brokerage unique, we need to complement our new online offer with human interaction and expertise. Support us today, so we can help build the future the corporate world wants and our young people deserve.

To support our Generation 2020 Fund or to find out more please contact Susheel Sharma.