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No ‘American Dream’ for UK’s poorest youngsters, warns social investor

11 June 2012
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Where you’re born and grow up currently determines where you end up. We urgently need to address the fact that the current system is failing millions of young people.

Annika Small, CEO, Nominet Trust

The British equivalent of the American Dream does not exist for the youngsters in the poorest parts of the UK.

Social investor the Nominet Trust has called for a re-think on how to support young people in Britain as new data suggests their life chances are fixed at birth.

The data, from a Nominet Trust-funded project called Compare Futures, shows that in poorer areas young people’s chances of employment or attending university are extremely low, compared to their counterparts in richer areas.

The data, which forms part of a project by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies launching next month, reveals that young people from Middlesborough are ten times more likely to be unemployed as those from wealthy Wokingham.

Compared to the average, those from Middlesborough are almost three times as likely to be unemployed. Educational opportunities also look bleak, with only 1% of young people from Kingston Upon Hull going to a red brick University compared to 34% of those from Wimbledon.

With over one million young people currently unemployed, Nominet Trust is using the data to highlight the diversity of their experiences and opportunities.It wants to encourage everyone working in the space – from policy makers to youth workers – to think about how to do things differently for all 7.4 million 16-24 year olds in the UK, and believes digital technology has a big role to play in changing the fortunes of young people.

With this in mind, Nominet Trust is using the Hay Festival to launch a £2m investment programme to fund ideas for new ways of using digital technology to improve young people’s economic and social participation. 

Whether it’s using online platforms to support micro-employment, capitalising on existing networks to galvanise peer mentoring; or using new technology to improve the relationships between young people and those who support them. The first round of applications for this programme will be accepted from now until 1 August.

Annika Small, CEO, Nominet Trust, said: ‘Where you’re born and grow up currently determines where you end up. We urgently need to address the fact that the current system is failing millions of young people.

‘Digital technology gives us the tools to do things radically differently. Whether creating new forms of online skills exchange and reward, new connections that increase young people’s access to resources and networks of support, or new ways of showcasing talents and experience to future employers, digital technology can broaden young people’s horizons and improve their social and economic participation.’

Richard Garside, Director of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies carrying out the Compare Futures project, which received funding in an early round from the Nominet Trust, said: ‘We are taught to believe that life is what you make of it, that the able will succeed, regardless of background. Thanks to Nominet Trust’s funding, Compare Futures will help young people understand how life chances differ by geography. It will also challenge politicians to champion policies that correct the postcode lottery that affects deeply young people's life chances.’

Further information about the new funding available from the Nominet Trust is available here.