Virgin Media O2 is partnering with youth empowerment organisation, 20/20 Change, to provide hundreds of young people from underrepresented ethnic groups with coaching and advice, helping to bridge the gap between education and employment.
The two-year partnership – spearheaded by Virgin Media O2’s Enrich employee network for underrepresented ethnic groups – will enable 400 people to take part in 20/20 Change’s “I AM CHANGE” programme via a series of free courses.
The programme is designed to help 17-30 year-olds, specifically those from disadvantaged backgrounds, discover and fulfil their potential during 10 weekly sessions exploring topics such as leadership and responsibility, success and motivation as well as mindfulness. The course also provides practical tips such as CV writing and interview techniques, digital skills and advice on how to manage finances.
As part of the ‘I AM CHANGE’ programme, Virgin Media O2 is providing spaces to run the sessions and will provide one-to-one mentoring and advice to give young people the tools they need to get their first step on the career ladder.
This comes as the latest findings from the Office for National Statistics show 16-24 year-olds are amongst the most affected by the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic, while 44% of young people in the same age group who were not in education, employment or training (NEET) were looking for work during April to June 2021.
Duro Oye, Founder and Chief Executive Officer at 20/20 Change, said, “I commend Virgin Media O2 for recognising the importance of a diverse workforce and for believing in the potential of the young people that graduate from our ‘I AM CHANGE’ programme. With this substantial multi-year partnership, they have distinguished themselves as a forward-thinking company willing to do what’s needed to create a truly diverse and inclusive workplace.
“This partnership will go a long way in helping us achieve our goal of ensuring young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and underrepresented communities transition from education to employment smoothly, putting these individuals in good stead to go on and have successful and prosperous careers.”
Leanna Edwards and Marc Nicoue, co-chairs of Virgin Media O2’s Enrich employee network, said, “We’re excited to work with 20/20 Change and the ‘I AM CHANGE’ programme which will empower and inspire hundreds of young people and help them to achieve their potential, where our institutions fall short. It’s amazing to support a programme that focuses on how growing a network and shifting mindset, can change the future of those from underrepresented communities, just as much as education.”
To help support Virgin Media O2’s ambition to become a more inclusive and equitable employer, 20/20 Change will also provide guidance on how the business can better support its people from underrepresented communities.
Nisha Marwaha, Director of People Relations and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Virgin Media O2, said, “We’re proud to be partnering with 20/20 Change – a truly inspiring organisation which is providing young people with essential skills and coaching so they can realise and fulfil their potential.
“This partnership will help Virgin Media O2 become a more inclusive company, where Duro and his team will provide their expertise on the action we can take to better support our employees from underrepresented ethnic groups.”
Angel Adjei, 24-years-old and from South Croydon, took part in the 20/20 Change programme in 2019. After completing the programme, Angel secured her dream job as a technical manager for a science laboratory company.
Angel said, “I began the 20/20 programme in June 2019 with a desire to achieve great things and be successful, but not truly understanding the tools I needed to get there.
“I had graduated realising I didn’t want to pursue the career path connected to my degree and was really unsure of my next steps. This left me unhappy, unfulfilled and without purpose.
“The main thing 20/20 Change gave me was a perspective shift. “Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions” – this is one of the quotes we were given on the programme and it showed me I had to be intentional with everything I did if I wanted to truly be happy.
“My perception of success and how it was obtained was completely wrong and I was stuck in a cycle of procrastination. Constantly coming up with ideas but never really taking the steps needed to start them and using my perfectionism as an excuse for things never being ready.
“On the programme, we learnt that one can have many purposes and that achieving success is not only about getting to that one end goal, but recognising goals met at every stage of life and enjoying the journey. This allowed me to take a step back and appreciate how far I had come and instead of being stuck on how to achieve my wildest dreams, I focused on just taking it one step at a time.
“I reassessed my values and also learnt that making things happen for myself was my choice and determination needed to come from within. Failure in my situation was a choice and I could choose a different outcome through putting in some work.
“With those tools and many more, I was able to secure my first graduate role doing something I was truly passionate about and two years later, with further support from Duro and the 20/20 Change team, I now find myself in a job that perfectly blends my love for academia with my desire to bring change through innovation. When I look back on the last two years I can clearly see my growth as a person and clarity for my future.”
20/20 Change was founded in 2013. It is a youth empowerment organisation that aims to help young people realise their true potential and cultivate the right mind-set to engage with today’s changing society.