It is difficult to quantify exactly how much young people have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Having turned the fabric of academic institutions upside down, and thrown question marks over job security, navigating this coronavirus defined world as a young person is punctuated with disappointment and heartbreak.

Committed to combating these disadvantages, The Learning Foundry has launched their 18-week Youthquake programme. The free programme, launched on the 18th of January, will upskill 12 young people from the Liverpool City Region, equipping them with the skills to stand out from the crowd and grasp life changing opportunities. The opportunities and activities offered on the programme give young people a voice, as well as focusing on their employability skills. Aiming to get the learners “work-ready”, the programme is not simply thinking about the next 18 weeks. The Learning Foundry wants to progress these young people further along their professional and personal journeys.

Already 4 weeks into the programme, the learners have been engaged with a host of incredible opportunities and role models. One such role model was Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram, who spoke to the learners about his own professional experiences, as well as taking questions from the 12 learners. Metro Mayor Rotheram was keen to share his life lessons with the programme learners, reminding them that their local community is invested in the success of young people. “You all have your own individual talents, what you need is to have the support so that we can nurture those talents and enable you to reach your full potential”. One of the learners remarked on the talk, “the interview was interesting and a good new experience to hear from someone who has a lot of power in our community… It was a shock to me how he was like us. He was inspirational” (C.C.L (Youthquake Learner). The impact of this talk, reminding learners how Steve is “like us” emphasises how The Youthquake Programme is closing the gap between ambitious career aspirations and the concrete plans needed to make those aspirations a reality.

Another step towards these goals was taken as the learners were asked to reflect on the issues that face their community, before coming up with proposals full of tangible action points in order to eradicate these issues. The in-depth analysis of their local areas, combined with their visions of how they’d transform their communities, has allowed the learners to become even more connected with their neighbourhoods. As one learner shared, “I wouldn’t have thought about any of the issues around where I live if it wasn’t for this course, it made me think a lot about what is going on around me as well as helping me with skills to get into an apprenticeship” (J.G (Youthquake Learner). By week 3 of the programme, another learned described how “this course already has made me have a closer look at ways in which we can help people that live around us as well as help my confidence and employability skills” (T.M (Youthquake learner).

Motivation also came from the words of Garth O Dallas from The Good Business Festival (partnered with The Learning Foundry to support the Youthquake Programme), who reassured the learners that there are entire teams invested in the success of these young people. “We’re backing the programme, we’re backing the project, because we want your young people to understand that we can all be the best that we can be if opportunities are presented to us”. Having already smashed their way through the first 3 weeks of the programme, the learners still have plenty of exciting opportunities coming their way. One such opportunity has been made possible by Northern Power Women, who will help the learners in creating two podcast episodes, focusing on their projects to eradicate local issues. The learner-led project will culminate with a Dragon’s Den opportunity, where learners will present their proposals to a panel of industry experts.

With so much already achieved on the programme, it is also important to consider where the springboard that is the Youthquake Programme will land these learners. After completing the programme, The Learning Foundry will support the learners in finding apprenticeship placements, where they will be able to work towards securing an industry recognised qualification. After finishing the programme, these learners will have flourished into capable and confident young individuals, with a range of transferable skills at their disposal. From podcast production and marketing techniques to market research and business plan development, The Youthquake Programme will have equipped learners with the ability to make the most of any apprenticeship opportunity. What they need now is for someone to acknowledge the potential of these learners and give them the chance to utilise the host of skills that The Youthquake Programme has equipped them with.

Over the last year, many of us will have heard the phrase “we’re all in the same storm, but in different boats” used to capture the multitude of nuanced challenges that face every group in society. Young people has suffered from torn sails, a broken rudder and a leaking hull, The Youthquake programme is the turbo charged life-boat that so many young people desperately need to steer them through into smoother waters.