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Our Future Now – The Need to Act - Inspiring Scotland


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Our Future Now – The Need to Act

Alongside trusted charities and investors, we are committed to supporting young people as they navigate the challenges of the post COVID-19 job market, writes Inspiring Scotland Chief Executive Celia Tennant.

After 10 years of sustained effort from across government, business, and civil society in Scotland, youth unemployment reached a record low of 6.9% in July 2019.

I am proud of the role Inspiring Scotland and its many partners played in helping to reach this point, but could never have anticipated that only a year later we would be preparing for what is being described as a tsunami of youth unemployment because of COVID-19.

We know that unemployment is likely to affect 16-25-year-olds disproportionately.

An entire generation of young people are at risk, even those who are ‘job ready’ will have nowhere to go if they are not rapidly engaged in activity that provides skills and preparation for the post COVID-19 job market.

What we also know is the impact and challenge will be even greater for young people who face greater barriers in their lives; living in poverty or in difficult family circumstances, with experience of the care system, or with caring responsibilities.

To prevent this, we must use the knowledge and experience built over the last 10 years to invest in the kind of interventions which have the potential to prevent lifelong scarring from youth unemployment.

We’ve done it before

Inspiring Scotland’s flagship 10-year youth unemployment fund 14:19 contributed to securing record lows in youth unemployment in 2019 by supporting 36,188 young people to a better place in life through employment, education, or training.

Our Future Now was formed as the follow-up to 14:19, because we had learnt that too many young people were still being excluded from the opportunity to fulfil their potential due to circumstances beyond their control. We want to see even more young people not merely surviving but flourishing.

A collective Third Sector Response

We know there are no quick fixes, and therefore need to invest in leaders and organisations with strong track records, as well as vision, passion, and creativity.

We back the third sector for these reasons, and through Our Future Now we selected 12 experienced and trusted charities to direct their support at young people aged 16 to 25 experiencing more challenges in their lives than most.

These charities have ambition, potential for growth, commitment to evaluation and transparency. They are well placed to work with young people in complex circumstances in a person-centered way for as long as required. They can also be relied on to innovate and quickly implement new creative approaches, focusing on efficiency and keeping bureaucracy at a minimum.

We have a shared ambition for young people and by working together as a portfolio, we share what works and what doesn’t and provide cohesion and momentum that results in the collective impact being more than the sum of the individual parts.


To tackle the scale of inequality it will take radical and bold interventions, which the The Report of the Advisory Group of Economic Recovery has called for.

We know that we must use this moment to act. Given the scale of the task, success will require cross-sector collective effort of a kind that has never been seen before.  As this crisis has illuminated inequality, it has also shone a light on the role of the third sector and an acknowledgment of its critical role in the period of economic recovery, supporting young people, employability, health and wellbeing.

I ask that we now look to approaches and interventions which have delivered successfully, effectively, and at scale in the past. With the investors who are already backing Our Future Now and the commitment and drive of the charities involved we are committed to rise to this challenge and we are determined to use our experience, energy and passion to help young people and prevent scarring further generations.

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