Press release

Prime minister to announce new generation of mentors to help struggling teens

David Cameron will announce a new generation of high-flying mentors to help struggling teens improve their life chances.

  • businesses to encourage employees to volunteer as mentors
  • chair of the Careers and Enterprise Company and Capgemini UK to oversee new national mentoring campaign to attract high-flying role models
  • government to deliver on key social justice reform

A new generation of high-flying mentors will be created to help struggling teens fulfil their potential and improve their life chances – Prime Minister David Cameron announced today.

Christine Hodgson, Chair of Capgemini UK and the Careers and Enterprise Company, has agreed to lead a major campaign to encourage business people and professionals to volunteer to act as mentors to young teens at risk of dropping out of education or achieving less than they could.

While figures for young people not in education, training or employment (NEET) have fallen since 2010, with numbers now at the lowest levels since records began, there are still tens of thousands of teenagers who are at risk of falling through the cracks.

Alongside this, many bright children from disadvantaged backgrounds are not fulfilling their potential with figures showing pupils who score highly in primary school often struggle to continue that success into secondary school.

Around 25,000 pupils about to begin GCSEs risk under-achieving or dropping out; many of these would benefit from a mentor and the campaign will aim to ensure that they are not denied that support because no suitable mentors are available.

The national mentoring campaign will see schools and businesses encouraged to work together to give these young people the best possible chance to succeed in later life.

It is part of a broader strategy aimed at combatting poverty and improving the life chances of the worst off which will be outlined by the prime minister later today.

In his speech later today Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to say:

Many people can look back at their younger selves and point to someone, perhaps a parent or teacher, a sports coach, or their first boss, and say ‘that’s the person who found my passion. They’re the ones who made the difference’.

But if you haven’t ever had someone in your life who really believes in you, who sees your potential and helps bring it to the fore, the sands of time can drain away, and your talents can remain hidden.

So I can announce that we are going to launch a new national campaign led by Christine Hodgson, Chair of CapGemini UK and the Careers and Enterprise Company, and it will work with business, charities and the public sector to build a new generation of high-quality mentors.

We’ll direct £70 million towards careers in this Parliament, primarily to the Careers and Enterprise Company who will lead this major new effort to recruit mentors for young teenagers with a focus on the 25,000 about to start their GCSEs who we know are underachieving or at risk of dropping out.

Christine Hodgson said:

I am pleased that the Careers and Enterprise Company has been asked to spearhead this campaign. In our engagement with businesses, we work with many people wanting to volunteer and help support the next generation.

We hope that this campaign will highlight even more opportunities for people to get involved in a meaningful way to help young people who are in danger of becoming disengaged.

The new campaign will be led through the Careers and Enterprise Company, which was set up to give young people better access to high quality careers education, advice and guidance through more effective employer engagement with schools.

The campaign will:

  • encourage mentors to come forward from businesses and public and charitable sectors, including the civil service and Local Government Association

  • help potential volunteers to identify mentoring organisations operating in their local area through more effective work with schools

  • proactively target schools who need help to offer mentors

Mentoring has been shown to help improve children’s attainment and self-esteem. The campaign will build on existing provision delivered through a wide number of organisations including the Prince’s Trust, Mosaic and the Mentoring and Befriending Foundation.

Notes to editors:

  • government will spend £70 million on its strategy to improve careers education and guidance in this Parliament, including continued funding for The Careers and Enterprise Company, which was announced by the Secretary of State for Education in December 2014 and set up a year ago

  • the Careers and Enterprise Company will oversee this new national campaign and will help volunteers to identify existing excellent mentoring organisations who operate locally

  • there are currently fewer young people NEET than at any time since consistent records began. At the end of 2014 there were 141,800 16- to 18-year olds NEET. The proportion was 7.3%, down from 7.7% at the end of 2013 and 2.5 points lower than it was in 2011