4theRegion members met with businesses and organisations across South West Wales to explore the range of ways that young people are being supported to create flourishing futures for themselves here in South West Wales.
Whilst it’s true that these are exciting times for the region, with new sectors emerging, local businesses growing and major investments taking place in local areas across the four counties, large numbers of young people are facing increased anxiety, stress and mental health challenges, made worse by the pandemic. Modern life presents some real threats to their wellbeing, including excessive internet and social media use, too much focus on exams and testing in our education system, and fears for the future in a changing world. In this context, businesses and organisations agree that rather than heaping expectation and pressure onto children about “what they want to do when they grow up”, we need to first address the emotional, psychological and mindset challenges that young people are facing, so that they are better able to capitalise on the exciting training and employment opportunities that exist in our region.
Perhaps the real question is, “who do you want to be, what kind of person would you like to become” – placing the focus on the opportunity to build a happy, healthy and fulfilling future. Self-belief, resilience and curiosity are key attributes that enable young people to seize opportunities and discover their own path.
With all that said, the opportunity to explore different industries, understand the wide variety of different career paths available, and challenge preconceptions about certain sectors is also massively beneficial to young people, and projects like Technocamps and Springboard are examples of sector-related initiatives that give young people skills and insights in key sectors – computation and hospitality respectively.
Businesses and employers have a key role to play in engaging with schools and colleges to illuminate the opportunities that exist for young people. The construction sector in particular has a strong record of engaging with schools and older students, with regional companies like Griffiths Civil Engineering and major contractors like Bouygues offering work tasters, apprenticeships and shadowing opportunities. Projects like 2D Enterprising and The HOW People are also connecting local businesses with schools and young people, providing role models, hands-on experiences and inspiration as well as developing important transferable skills in children, such as entrepreneurialism, creativity, problem solving and self expression.
You can catch up on the wide ranging discussion about young people, skills and opportunities in South West Wales, by watching the event recording or reading the full event report. Please do get in touch with 4theRegion to tell us about your work in empowering future generations in South West Wales, or to share challenges and ideas about what more is needed.