Centenary Young Fellows in business - RSA

Centenary Young Fellows in business

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In the last Fellowship news, we updated you on the progress of the Centenary Young Fellows appeal, the new scheme aimed at bringing a younger generation into the Fellowship.

We're pleased to say the scheme continues to draw support from Fellows, and we now have over 65 CYF's nominated and have raised over £45,000. One Fellow who has supported the CYF appeal is David Arnold, who has sponsored five young people through his company, icould. icould is a charity that provides career inspiration for young people, helping them to make the right decisions as they move between education and the world of work. Here's David talking about his work and his reasons for supporting the next generation of Fellows:

1) Please give a brief explanation of yourself and icould?

I am currently Director of the charity icould, which I helped establish in 2008.  icould provides a modern approach to careers information and support, giving inspiration to young people and adults online through icould.com and a range of social networking sites. I have over 25 years’ experience of working within education and the health sector at local and national level including having trained and worked as a teacher in a state comprehensive school.

The world of work is essentially about two things - jobs and people. Most organisations focus on jobs, we focus on people - their skills, desires, attributes and motivations and how these can be matched to a range of careers. We have over 1200 video case studies of real people talking about their real jobs, their backgrounds and their journey through life. Every type of person, across all sectors, addressing highs and lows, difficulties and successes. In a nutshell, we show what work and jobs are like. 

2) Why did you join the Fellowship?

In the mid-1990s I was invited to become a Fellow having been nominated by a colleague.  Once I had delved a little deeper I felt a strong affinity to the RSA, what it stands for the discussions and campaigns it was promoting and the people associated with it.

Nearly 20 years on I feel that the RSA is even more relevant to my work and the work of our charity. The opportunity to be part of an organisation and community that values the third sector and promotes critical thinking and creative solutions to enduring issues is of great value and benefit and a privilege.

Through your company, you have recently sponsored 5 places for our Centenary Young Fellows scheme – why do you think it’s important to get young people involved in the RSA’s work? 

For me, being involved with the RSA has largely been about a mind-set; being open to dialogue, ideas and discussion. Unusually it is also about doing, putting ideas into action, trying new approaches seeing what works. That is an attractive and important combination of approaches. The more people we can get involved in the mind-set and work of the RSA the better. We need both youth and experience.

As a small charity working virtually and with a small dispersed team, it has been difficult for us to provide direct support to young people through for example internships or work experience. Supporting the Centenary Young Fellows Scheme we feel is a great opportunity to directly support young people and create a new group of ambassadors and champions involved in the work of the RSA.  

3) In your experience, what do you think are the key challenges for young people when they come out of education and/or enter the world of work?

Clearly it is a difficult time for many young people making the transition from education to work. The entry requirements for many jobs are getting tougher and the pool of potential candidates getting bigger. But many employers are finding that qualifications in themselves are not enough and certainly not the only or best way of finding the right people for their organisation. And for many young people the choice of working for yourself rather than for someone else is also increasingly attractive. So the challenge for many young people is striking the balance between qualifications and (work) experience, hard and soft skills, competence and confidence.  

4) Would you recommend other Fellows support this scheme in this way i.e. through their companies/places of work?

I think if you can yes of course. For many of us in small organisations the focus is on the day-to-day, concentrating every effort on your main business and in these difficult times for some on survival. But it is equally important to think about the longer-term and invest in the future. For icould, our vision, our goals and our work align closely with that of the RSA and supporting the Centenary Young Fellows scheme feels like a good thing to do, the right thing for us and we welcome the opportunity to be involved. 

5) How does icould use the RSA?

We find it useful to hold our team meetings and many 1:1 meetings at the RSA because the ambiance and buzz of the place is conducive to sharing ideas out loud, brainstorming and lateral thinking- the spaces at the RSA, the informal eating/drinking opportunities and the continual coming and going of people, events and functions provides just the right atmosphere for a small team such as ours. And above all, almost everybody at the RSA- staff, fellows and visitors- has time for a brief word and a smile!

To find out more about David’s work at icould, visit icould.com.

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