Leaders from the corporate world are coming together on Wednesday (28.3.12) to discuss how they can increase the level of business support that is offered to youth organisations in England. O2’s Chief Executive Ronan Dunne will host a consultation event to launch United Futures, a new campaign that will break down barriers between businesses and the youth sector.

‘At Telefonica we have a great passion and proven track record in working with and championing young people and the organisations that support them. There is a real, current social need for other businesses to do the same, as young people in the UK suffer under the strain of these tough economic times.’ Ronan Dunne, CEO, O2 in the UK.

Senior figures from other corporates such as Accenture, HSBC, JP Morgan, Samsung and Visa are also taking part in the event as well as those representing smaller businesses. They will be joined by youth sector leaders and young people who will give insight into how businesses can best get involved.

United Futures is being led by three charities (Business in the Community, The National Children’s Bureau and UK Youth) and the services that it is focusing on support young people outside school. These are run by Local Authorities and the voluntary sector.

‘If you consider that young people spend just 20% of their time at school it is easy to understand why these services are really important. We want to find out what the organisations that run them need from businesses and likewise promote the business benefits of supporting local young people.’ Charlotte Hill, Chief Executive, UK Youth.

Research demonstrates a clear link between the amount of contact young people have with employers and their likelihood of finding work. Over a quarter (26%) of young people classified as ‘Not in employment, education or training’ (NEET) had no experience of employer engagement, compared with just 4% of those who had four or more contacts with business*.

The group leading United Futures will assess what kind of support youth sector organisations need and also what businesses have to offer. Once this has been established outreach events will be held across England and online resources made available to help bring about new mutually beneficial partnerships.

Ronan Dunne further explained his involvement in United Futures by adding ‘Business already offers support to in-school activities but there is more it can do outside formal education. United Futures will help us as a business community to achieve this and I truly believe we have to work in collaboration to make a difference. This event presents an exciting opportunity for us all to contribute our valuable insights and experience to inform the United Futures campaign.’

Another recent survey found that 42% of young people aged 11-18 have had no contact with employers in the previous two years**.

For more information about the event and the United Futures project contact:
Lucy Allen – lucy@ukyouth.org / 07432 636618

Journalists can contact the Virgin Media O2 press office on:
press@virginmediao2.co.uk 01753 565656
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