Why young people’s future is everyone’s future – the role of brands at this critical time

November 2020 saw the sixth event in our ‘Education Matters’ series - a series designed to help organisations understand more about the importance of education in opening up opportunities and building aspirations, as well as the business benefits that supporting education can offer. This event provided a stark insight into the impact of COVID-19 on education and a rallying cry for brands to pledge their support for young people at risk of becoming left behind.

At Hopscotch, we’re passionate about supporting young people’s education to protect their future prospects. The global pandemic has put this further under the microscope with numerous reports highlighting the impact on young people. Ofsted reports that the pandemic has seen most children in England’s learning and social skills slipping back.

Hopscotch has recently conducted its own study amongst Gen Z regarding the impact of the pandemic. It found that young people still see education as vital to their prospects. 66% of 16- to 24-year-olds were in favour of businesses supporting education, with only 21% suspicious or sceptical of business involvement. This suggests that brands can help at this critical time by delivering innovative programmes that aim to protect young people’s futures.

Whilst the statistics on the impact of the pandemic on young people’s wellbeing were sobering, the panel’s practical guidance on how brands can provide a valuable lifeline, using their expertise to save a generation at risk, offered real hope.

Here are our key takeaways which include insights from Microsoft, The Gatsby Foundation and Childwise. Together, there’s an opportunity for us to effect real societal impact, offering Gen Z the support they really want and need.

  1. Understand how you can add value to learning

It’s no surprise that stress and anxiety in 11-18s has increased this year, with 36% reporting that they feel worried and anxious in comparison to 28% in 2019 [1]. That, combined with the varied challenges remote lessons pose, has impacted on young people’s engagement with learning. with 23% saying they did almost no work at all at home [2].

Now, schools are under pressure to catch up on this lost academic progress. This means it’s likely that interventions which are key to readying young people for life beyond school will be deprioritised. Schools are conscious of this but it’s a tricky balance to strike.

This is where brands can step up and have impact. Use your organisation’s skills, expertise, access to technology and people to help schools continue to provide their students with a rich and varied experience.

Our panel also discussed the importance for brands to stand out from the crowd through a clearly defined purpose and the actions they take to support their customers and communities. This need has increased throughout 2020 due to the pandemic, with society even more concerned about brands demonstrating how they build trust and respect.

  1. Focus on future skills not future jobs

65% of current students are likely to enter the workforce doing jobs that don’t yet exist [3]. So how are we going to prepare them for a workplace that we can’t even picture?

We can’t know what these jobs will be, so our focus needs to be on the key skills needed to succeed in the future workplace and how we embrace the huge and continuing changes brought about by technology.

The pace of change and extent of the role of technology in our lives now means that young people will not have the option to stop learning. We need to continually develop skills to enable us to embrace whatever the technology of the future looks like.

The need for tech and transferable ‘human’ skills, like confidence, communication ethics, and data science, outpaces the school curriculum. Your organisation knows the skills its future workforce will need, so this is your chance to step up and fill these gaps to enable young people to be better prepared for an uncertain future.

  1. Find ways to achieve impact – for young people and your organisation

‘Encounters with employers and employees’ and ‘Experiences of workplaces’ are two of the Gatsby benchmarks for Good Career Guidance that schools are under pressure to demonstrate they are delivering against. From a business perspective, this is often done through employee volunteering programmes, which, it goes without saying, have been a challenge in 2020.

Finding ways that your brand can engage with students remotely is vitally important. Previously this had been reliant on face to face interactions but now there is the opportunity to engage with harder to reach students. Not only will it bring benefits to young people and schools, but it can also have a positive impact on your organisation, from improved reputation and brand warmth to increasing the wellbeing of your employee volunteers.

Many schemes are already available to employers and employees to help schools and colleges develop their careers programme in a coordinated way. Example included becoming an Enterprise Advisor at the Careers and Enterprise Company ( or volunteering through Education and Employers (


[1] CHILDWISE Monitor 2020 / CHILDWISE Monitor 2021 (forthcoming)

[2] Kids in Lockdown report, CHILDWISE Buzz Bulletin (forthcoming)

[3] The Future of Jobs Employment, Skills and Workforce Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, World Economic Forum, January 2016

About the author

Jenny Anderson

Jenny has been with Hopscotch since 2015 and has extensive experience in creating and marketing award-winning education programmes. She is passionate about working with businesses to develop initiatives that are grounded in insight, inspire action and deliver impact. In her spare time, she volunteers with a local charity that provides training and jobs for refugees.

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