Standard launches £1m campaign to assist jobless young into work.

Dear London,

There is no doubt that it is the young of our great city who have borne the brunt of the pandemic. They had the least health risk but sacrificed the most in terms of interrupted schooling, remote learning, lost socialising and cuts to mental health services, blighting their chances to acquire key skills and precious life experiences.

Last week, our joint investigation with The Independent revealed another stark cost — more than one in five young Londoners seeking work find themselves jobless, a rate six times higher than the national all-ages rate.

This comes despite record vacancies of 1.2 million countrywide. As we revealed, it points to a gaping mismatch and a massive missed opportunity which the Government’s Kickstart Scheme has manifestly failed to address.

In the great tradition of this newspaper, we seek not only to identify the problem but to be part of the solution. That is why I am proud to announce the launch of our new Christmas appeal.

Skill Up Step Up will help disadvantaged youth get onto that all important first rung of the ladder. We are partnering with Barclays which has given us £1 million to provide grants to a select group of charities that will offer employability training to make jobless young people work ready.

We are calling on employers to step up to the plate with job or apprenticeship offers and we are asking you, our readers, to donate what you can. As we negotiate the twists and turns of this pandemic, we must make sure that nobody is left behind. We can’t let our city’s disadvantaged youth fall through the cracks. They have so much to offer. I am sure you will step up and help them to skill up. I have no doubt that it will transform their lives.

Yours, Evgeny
Lord Lebedev
Evening Standard proprietor

What are we doing?

We have launched SKILL UP STEP UP, a £1m initiative in partnership with Barclays LifeSkills to upskill unemployed and disadvantaged young Londoners so they can be “work ready” and step up into sustainable jobs or apprenticeships.

Why are we doing this?

Youth unemployment in London has soared by 55 per cent to 105,000 since the start of the pandemic, meaning that 21 per cent of 16-24 year-olds are jobless at a time of record job vacancies of 1.17M countrywide. This mismatch, caused largely by an employability skills and experience gap, is leading to wasted lives and billions of pounds of lost productivity for our economy.

How will it work?

The £1M from Barclays will provide grant funding over two years for up to five outstanding hand-picked charities that provide disadvantaged jobless young Londoners with employability skills and wrap-around care to get them into the labour market and transform their lives.

The first charity partner, announced today, is Springboard. They will support young people into jobs in the hospitality industry (hotels, restaurants, bars, leisure and tourism) via a 3-6 week programme that includes one-to-one mentoring, soft skills and employability development (confidence, work attitude, CV building, interview practice, time management), practical industry and hard skills training including food safety and customer service, as well as access to work experience placements. More partner charities will be announced in due course.

How can jobless young Londoners skill up?

If you are aged 16-24 and want to upskill towards a job in hospitality, contact Springboard at:

For tools, tips and learning resources, visit:

How to help

How can employers step up?

We want companies — large, medium and small — to step up to the plate with a pledge to employ one or more trainees in a job or apprenticeship. They could work in your IT, customer service, human resources, marketing or sales departments, or any department with entry-level positions. You will be provided with a shortlist of suitable candidates to interview.

To get the ball rolling, contact the London Community Foundation, who are managing the process at:

How can readers help?

The more money we raise, the more young people we can skill up. To donate go to