We know that if Sky is going to be here for generations to come, we need to play our part in building a society that can flourish. But businesses can’t and shouldn’t act alone in this. Of course, there are a number of actions business can take, such as making sure it’s easy for all customers to use their services, creating effective development opportunities for their staff; and supporting staff involvement in community initiatives.
But more than that, at Sky, we think businesses have a role to play in enabling the next generation to succeed. All too often we hear of a mismatch between employers and young people starting out on their careers. Companies are talking about a shortage of ‘employability skills’, like problem-solving and communication. Business can support educators and parents to help young people plug this gap. In particular, this means engaging with young people early to make sure that they are building skills and gaining an understanding of the world of work as part of their education journey.
That’s one of the reasons why we’ve invested in Sky Academy, which aims to help one million young people in the UK and Ireland unlock their potential. Through our newest initiative, Sky Academy Careers Lab, for example, we’re providing a full-day careers experience for thousands of 16–19 year olds each year, helping them to build employability skills and discover careers opportunities in media, business and technology. Sky Academy Starting Out offers work experience, apprenticeship and graduate opportunities, and we’ll be doubling these across our business by 2016, helping create the next generation of talent at Sky and giving more young people a head start in their careers.
Alongside Sky Academy, we’re also supporting initiatives that are helping young people take wider social action. One of them is Step up to Serve, which is galvanising many different types of organisations to get more young people actively involved in social action. Its #iwill campaign has unlocked £21 million of government funding and supports a group of 50 young ambassadors, aged 10–20 years, who are leading social action in their communities.
Wayne Instrell is a great example of this. He’s a college student living in Bedford, England, who now coaches rugby and mentors younger students in his spare time. A few years ago, Wayne was having a tough time at school as well as coming to terms with the sudden death of his father. He was chosen to join a learn-to-swim project through Sky Sports Living for Sport, part of Sky Academy. Despite being scared of the water, by the end of the project he was able to swim a width of the pool and, with the support of one of our Athlete Mentors, got involved in school rugby. His confidence grew, and he turned things round back in the classroom too. Seeing what sport can do, he has ‘stepped up’ to inspire others.
We also support the MAMA Youth Project, which enables disadvantaged young people to break into the television sector. It works with 48 people a year, 24 of them at Sky, where we provide mentoring and on-the-job training to help them gain broadcast media skills. They produce six episodes of a magazine TV show called What’s Up which airs on Sky 1.
One of our employees, Kerry Mathurin, cut his teeth on this show. He came to the UK with his family from St Lucia, Jamaica, aged 14. It wasn’t going to be easy as a young teenage black boy growing up in Harlesden, one of the most deprived parts of London. But, largely thanks to his own hard-working ethic, which he learnt from his highly principled family, he gained impressive grades in his GCSEs and went to Brunel University, where he discovered a passion for broadcast media. Kerry decided he wanted to work for one of the largest sports broadcasters in Europe, Sky Sports, and was able to hone his skills through the MAMA Youth Project, designing pieces for the What’s Up show. From there, he went on to a placement within Sky Creative, our in-house design team, and was then offered a permanent position within Sky.
The stories we have so far are adding up to show the difference it can make – not just to one young life but to whole communities – when young people get the support they need. The reason we’re supporting projects like these, as well as investing in Sky Academy, is because it makes sense for us to take a long-term approach to value creation: it gives us a stake in the future generation.
Bella Vuillermoz is Director, Sky Academy
Image credit: katerha