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The Future of Work; supporting young people, employees and socio-economic change

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Meet Michael Taylor, Head of Regional Affairs at the Manchester Metropolitan University. Michael has extensive experience in working with young people to develop their skills and guide them as they join the workplace and we thought he would be the perfect guest to round out our video series on The Future of Work.

We’ve been exploring how lockdown has impacted students, both during their university experience and the opportunities available to them after graduation. Plus, Michael’s passion for socio-economic change drives a cracking conversation on how business leaders can put diversity to the fore, how they play a part in supporting their local community and what our collective hopes are for a post-COVID world.

Watch the video in full here or keep reading for an overview:

How can we help young people?

In our whitepaper we found that ageism is rife in the times of COVID-19.Despite it being illegal, the youngest of our society are struggling to find work. But is it ageism, or just a lack of experience?

Though we’re all working from home, it doesn’t mean everyone is, as Michael points out. Many industries such as health care and food retail, are still operating face to face and there are plenty of opportunities in those sectors – whether paid work, or as a volunteer.

The biggest challenge young people, particularly students, are facing is a lack of connection. People are missing out on 1-2-1 mentoring opportunities and incidental learning both in the workplace and in education. We have huge respect for the educators who have found ways to overcome this but know first-hand how difficult it is to build relationships remotely. It’s become a vital skill that many of us had to learn quickly but is an even greater challenge for young people still finding their feet as communicators.

“Their source is building that relationship in a strange and artificial, 2-dimensional way. Not being able to read body language, taking part in Zoom calls where you can’t quite read the room.” – Michael Taylor.

Ways you can help:

  • Be a guest lecturer

  • Take a student on a work placement

  • Hire an apprentice

  • Get involved with student societies and think tanks

  • Look for transferable skills rather than direct experience when hiring entry level roles

Embracing Google’s “20% time”

Michael turns interviewer and asks how Richard and Adam feel about this previously controversial Google policy.“20% time” is centered around giving employees time to pursue their own passions and hobbies.

“I’ve often joked I’ll do more work on a day in the hills than I will do at a desk because that’s where I get my head space to think things through, solve problems, create ideas.” – Adam Mitcheson

The pandemic era has brought very few positives, but the opportunity to overhaul how we work is something we simply cannot pass by. With employees regaining personal time thanks to not having a commute and many businesses embracing flexible working patterns, productivity across the country has gone through the roof. Our own experiences include projects moving at lightening speed, and decisions being made of a higher quality and in a timely manner.

Of course, a balance must be found. The average lockdown workday increased by 48 minutes in the UK, showing the pressure employees feel to ‘always be available’. Business owners have a unique opportunity to encourage staff to make the most of their additional time by repaying loyal, dedicated workers with the freedom to make the best use of their time, whatever that may be.

2020; The Year of Reflection

We won’t hide from the fact that there is a certain irony about three white males discussing diversity, but Michael makes clear that the change must start with people just like us. 2020 gave time to reflect on our own privileges, and to ask if we are really doing enough.

“The alpha male culture, it was on it’s way out and it’s absolutely done now. There’s a big change and a reckoning. We see it here in Manchester with big business personalities that have had it too good for too long. Getting away with terrible practices and awful internal cultures. That’s got to end.” – Michael Taylor.

Michael also shared how our episode featuring Vimla Appadoo made him see things differently. When approached about a speaking opportunity, he challenged them to add different voices. We love Vimla’s episode, which you can watch in full here. Honestly, it is the best 20 minutes you’ll spend all day.

“We’ve got to mean it when we say we’re going to do things like level up, make society more equal, give people proper opportunities. We’ve got to match it with action, not words.” – Michael Taylor


For more fascinating insights, you can download a copy of our Future of Work whitepaper here: