The Good Business Festival is about championing the talents of our next generation. Youthquake is a unique training programme for young people across the Liverpool City Region to embody this.
“Youthquake has transformed the lives of some amazing young people”, says The Learning Foundry’s Managing Director, Joanne Abraham. A collaboration between The Good Business Festival, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, and The Regenda Group, Youthquake is a unique opportunity for 16-24 year olds. It is not just a training programme; it is a unique platform allowing learners first-hand access to key business leaders across the region.
Learners will use the opportunities presented by the Good Business Festival to study how ‘good business’ can be a catalyst for change, and how social entrepreneurship can benefit their local area. They are tasked with planning a business concept to address key issues in their community, before pitching this to local business leaders at a Dragon’s Den style event. They will also undertake a work experience placement with a top employer, to put their skills into practice.
In the words of Claire McColgan MBE, Director at Culture Liverpool “The Good Business Festival is all about accelerating a positive change, and Youthquake embodies this ethos perfectly.”
The start of the Youthquake journey
The Youthquake story began in 2021, with the first cohort of learners developing two exciting business concepts.
“It’s young people looking at a problem that affects young people, that’s what I really love about this”, said Garth Dallas, Head of Collaborations for the Good Business Festival.
Pocket Full of Sunshine sought to solve the problems faced by those experiencing or at risk of homelessness in the Liverpool City Region, whilst
Impact Youth 555 was a travelling engagement hub for young people to provide social and educational opportunities.
Presenting their concepts to business leaders including Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, and Simone Roche MBE, CEO of Northern Power Women, Youthquake learners discussed business objectives, market research, financial planning, and branding.
Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram was impressed by the research and planning carried out by Youthquake learners. “You’ve identified a very real problem, and proposed a real solution to that”, he complimented.
One of those first Youthquake learners was Jamie-Leigh McGrady. Leaving school with no qualifications and having stayed at home since the age of 14, Youthquake, she told us, “changed my life forever”. “I felt lost. I was stuck for four years out of education with no work, and I was so lost”, she said. But with Youthquake, “I’d go, and I was so happy to go”. The skills Jamie-Leigh learned through Youthquake were invaluable.
Alongside fellow learner Charlotte, she took to the stage at Change Business for Good in April 2021 as part of the post-COVID pilot event. “When Charlotte and I got to the Festival, it felt like normality had finally returned, there were groups of more than six people for a start! It was great to actually meet and greet these wonderful businesses with a big smile and talk to them openly. It was my first taste of networking and I’ve got to say, I’m quite the natural!”.
After appearing live on BBC Radio Merseyside that morning, Jamie-Leigh and Charlotte spoke with Garth Dallas in front of a crowd of hundreds about their experiences and how the Youthquake programme had helped them to develop. Their stories resonated with the Festival’s audience – with praise and support flooding The Learning Foundry’s social media, and both girls invited for a BBC studio tour in London.
Jamie-Leigh is now working with Regenda Homes as a Housing Project Apprentice, working closely on regeneration projects such as Liverpool’s Grove Street and assisting with community engagement.
With the success of the first Youthquake group, a second cohort launched in Summer 2021.
Rory joined the second Youthquake after dropping out of college to focus on his mental health. Before Youthquake, he noticed he’d started to struggle and avoid socialising. “I got counselling, but when the pandemic hit, it was back to square one”, Rory said.
After moving to the UK from Kurdistan, Zina and Zainab also joined Rory for Youthquake 2, working on the Pocket Full of Sunshine project. “My English was quite poor”, said Zainab – meaning she needed to retake a GCSE. But because GCSEs began in September, there would be a wait of nearly a year. “I tried to hard to learn new things at home”. In that time, she decided that for her and Zina, Youthquake would be an ideal opportunity.
Together, they worked to develop the Pocket Full of Sunshine project from the first Youthquake group, pitching a business to support homeless people across Liverpool with temporary housing and employment opportunities. They worked closely with organisations across the City to find out the extent of the issues facing homeless people and spoke to those at risk directly. “It created a deeper connection to the project”, said Rory, “you can see that what you’re doing is having an impact”.
The team pitched their idea to our business leaders at the second Dragon’s Den style event, this time in the Cunard Building. For the first time as restrictions were lifted, the Youthquake groups could show off their business plans in person.
The change to COVID restrictions didn’t just help the event, for Youthquake 2, learners enjoyed a host of guest speakers and outdoor events – even heading to Vibe Outdoors in Knowsley for canoeing, archery, and more teambuilding exercises!
“Youthquake changed my life”, Zainab reflected. “I’ve learned new things and new ideas, I’ve got my GCSE, and I’m ready to go onto my A-Levels and my dream of being an airline pilot”.
For Rory, seeking a career in journalism, he enjoyed a placement in Steve Rotheram’s office at the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, learning the inner workings of local government. “I wouldn’t have got this opportunity anywhere other than Youthquake”, he told us.
Round three: tackling social issues
Youthquake is about empowering young people to use social value and entrepreneurship to tackle issues that matter to them. That’s why it is so important that for the current third cohort, Youthquake is sponsored by Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership.
MVRP are providing funding to ensure that through Youthquake, all communities across Merseyside have the right to be free from violence to provide the best life chances for all.
Detective Superintendent Siobhan Gainer is Head of the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership. She recognises the power young people have in promoting positive social change.
“Young people in Merseyside possess the vision, the entrepreneurship, and the creativity to succeed in business. However, we must recognise that a proportion of them grow up experiencing disadvantage. Whether perceived or real, many of these disadvantages can be barriers to achieving what they want in life.
Youthquake aims to change that. A young person in a progressive and supportive environment, unleashing their potential to tackle a social issue which is important to them, can be world changing.
The Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership puts young people at the heart of decision-making as does Youthquake, which engages them in finding solutions to realise their value to society. It also encourages businesses to recognise their role in tackling issues such as youth violence, so that we make Merseyside a place where children, young people and their families thrive.”
The next steps for Youthquake
The latest group of learners take their next Youthquake steps on 23rd March with a Dragon’s Den style event, pitching their latest business concepts to top business leaders at the Liverpool Guild of Students.
To follow their journey, follow The Learning Foundry on Instagram.
The Good Business Festival is passionately non-exclusive. It’s not about what you do or who you know. It’s not about agreeing on everything all of the time. It’s about everyone working towards a better world – no matter where you’re starting from.