Everywhere you look people’s lives are being transformed by technology. There have been huge advances in e-education and e-health, not to mention Raspberry Pi’s mission to make affordable family computing available to all.
In fact, there are countless examples of digital technology being used in imaginative ways to change the lives of others and the communities in which they live. Yet the world around us has never been more volatile and uncertain.
High unemployment, social exclusion, and low political engagement are just some of the challenges we face. These issues are nothing new and many people are struggling, but it’s the younger generations being hit hardest. Here in the UK, there are more than one million young people not in education, employment or training and there’s now a very real risk of them becoming a ‘lost generation’.
The Office for National Statistics may have reported last month that the jobless total fell between October and December 2012, but unemployment amongst those aged between 16 and 24 was unchanged at 20.5%. As pointed out by Martina Milburn, the chief executive at the Prince’s Trust, it’s now four years since the start of the recession and many young people have been left with nothing but a four year gap on their CV.
That’s why it’s absolutely critical we act now.
Already, some of the world’s biggest brands are looking at ways to harness the power of technology to drive social change. Apprenticeships are growing in popularity, and several initiatives have been launched recently to help young entrepreneurs get their start-ups off the ground.
But more needs to be done. We need to find new ways to engage with young people and provide them with the opportunity to transform their lives. Encouraging the next generation of entrepreneurs and supporting them with not just finance, but expert business support and mentoring will be key to transforming the lives of young people.
That’s why we launched the Tech for Good Challenge alongside Nominet Trust and with support from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, LDC, MITIE, Salesforce Foundation and Unity Trust Bank. We’re setting out to find 10 enterprises that are using technology to positively transform the lives of young people.
The power of digital technologies to impact profoundly on the future life chances of younger generations has already been proven. We’re looking for the next big thing. Raspberry Pi is the obvious example, but there are a number of other, perhaps less well known innovations, that are having a real impact of the lives of England’s youth.
Whether it’s Discoverables which allows young people to test and improve skills, or Technology Will Save Us that encourages young people to make rather than just consume digital, or Tyze a personal social network to support carers, grass roots technology development is driving change.
However, it’s not just about providing these types of ventures with money. It’s about mentoring, support and easy access to the appropriate expertise. So as well as funds, our corporate partners are providing their resources, expertise and market knowledge too.
By ensuring they are truly engaged with the ventures in which they are investing, we redefine the idea of corporate social responsibility and businesses get the help they really need to get their vision to market. Already, some of the world’s biggest brands are looking at ways to harness the power of technology to drive social change. But more can be done. We need to find new ways to provide young people with the opportunity to transform their lives and digital technology presents the perfect vehicle.