• O2 and Bauer commit £5 million financing to campaign
  • New research shows work skills and experience major barrier to employment
  • 30,000 work skills opportunities to be delivered to young people over three years
  • New online hub to offer career advice, insight and inspiration
  • GoThinkBig to invite UK employers to showcase opportunities in the one place

O2 and Bauer Media have jointly created GoThinkBig with a pledge to commit £5 million to its development and up to 30,000 work experiences (or work skills opportunities) for 14-25 year olds across the UK over the next three years. The need for the new initiative has been underpinned by new research showing lack of access to work skills and experience is a major barrier to employment for many young people.

To mark the launch, GoThinkBig (www.gothinkbig.co.uk) today unveils its platform which offers young people career advice, insight and inspiration to create their own opportunities– with advice and funding available – and will bring existing work experience opportunities from a range of employers into one place for the first time.

Research commissioned by GoThinkBig found that young people between 16 and 25 don’t know where to go to find work experience or opportunities to learn work skills and therefore struggle to take their first step on the career ladder.

There are currently 460,000 unemployed 16-25 year olds in the UK who say they have not been able to secure work skills and experience relevant to their chosen career. Furthermore, 41% feel that “going to work with a family member” is currently the easiest route to securing traditional work experience while 26% believe that employers only value formal work placement opportunities supported by schools and colleges.*

Challenging young people’s perceptions, GoThinkBig found that 42% of employers believe skills and experience gained in a variety of forms is the most important thing they look for when assessing candidates**:
Over two thirds of businesses (69%) say they do not formally publicise work experience opportunities for young people
Fewer than a quarter (24%) of employers say that education is more important than experience – the rest pay more attention to relevant experience and skills
Over one third (34%) of bosses say that skills gained working for a charity or activities undertaken supporting their community are just as valuable as formal work experience

It is hoped that GoThinkBig will level the playing field for access to the opportunities available so that any young person with an internet connection can apply. For GoThinkBig to reach its full potential, O2 and Bauer will be asking other employers to make their own work skills opportunities available through the new GoThinkBig.co.uk website.

GoThinkBig is stressing that these do not need to be solely the traditional two week work experience route as it recognises in tough circumstances these may not be the only solution. Other relevant opportunities include offering young people other opportunities such as volunteering, work skills days and project funding. The hope is that other employers will join the programme to mean that, for the first time, there is a single site where thousands of opportunities are available, all in one place.

An initial 9,000 opportunities from O2 and Bauer to be offered through GoThinkBig by October 2013 will come in the form of work experience placements, internships, apprenticeships, graduate roles, funding for community projects and places at the newly created Think Big School delivering skills days across the country.

As well as listing work skills opportunities, the online platform will be a creative and inspiring one-stop-shop, taking an editorial approach to deliver advice and information for young people. The launch editor for the site has been freelance journalist Isabel Mohan (who writes for Grazia, The Daily Mirror and The Daily Telegraph). From November 2012, GoThinkBig will be staffed by a new team of young people recruited to develop and maintain the programme and GoThinkBig online platform – supported and mentored by Bauer Media and O2.

Ronan Dunne, CEO of O2 said of the GoThinkBig launch:

“At O2, 25% of our workforce is under 25 so we’re privileged to see first-hand the benefits that young people bring to our workplace. But we know that young people today are facing some of the toughest employment challenges ever. That is why we are committing £5 million to make GoThinkBig a resource that will offer thousands of opportunities for young people to gain the work skills opportunities that will help them enter the world of full-time work.

“All businesses, big and small, have a role to play in helping support these young people on their journey to work and each of us can benefit by bringing fresh thinking into our organisations. We aren’t just talking about the traditional two work experience slot but all those opportunities that can help young people gain work skills.

“We want to encourage young people to be confident in the value of their skills to prospective employers. And businesses in turn need to recognise the value that young people can bring – they are the future fuel of the economy and form the generation that will help pull us out of recession. For GoThinkBig to realise its full potential, we need other businesses to join us on this journey.”

Paul Keenan, CEO of Bauer Media said:

“O2 and Bauer share a common belief that, rather than a ‘lost generation’, we need to inspire a ‘reboot generation’ – a generation that will dictate our future prosperity.

“Our editors and programmers have seen a shift in what youth audiences are concerned about. They are now talking as obsessively about their careers – and about how to start them – as they are about their social lives and relationships. They’re anxious about the future, asking for help and looking for encouragement and inspiration.

“In recognising that we, as employers, have as much to learn from young people as young people have to learn from us, we have created GoThinkBig to level access to work skills opportunities and experience, celebrate new ideas and empower young people to create exciting opportunities for themselves.”

Speaking about the launch of GoThinkBig, Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“GoThinkBig is an innovative social action project that will offer incredibly valuable opportunities to Britain’s aspiring young people who want to get on and get into work. This is a fantastic commitment by O2 and Bauer Media and I congratulate them on their effort to get young people the skills they need – and help Britain win in the global race.”


* based on a nationally representative survey of 1,125 young people aged 16-25 by OnePoll carried out 15 October 2012.
** based on a nationally representative survey of 500 UK businesses by OnePoll carried out 15 October 2012.

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