The EY Foundation Secure Futures programme: A collaboration with Security organisations to enable diverse young people to gain insight into the Security Sector
‘92% of young people who completed the programme agreed or strongly agreed that they now know what skills are required to get a job in the security industry, compared to 17% before’
‘100% of young people participating in the programme are eligible for Free School Meals’
What is the EY Foundation?
The EY Foundation is an independent UK charity that supports young people who are facing significant barriers to employment. Through our deep understanding of both sides of the labour market, we bring young people and employers together to close the skills gap between UK business and hidden talent. We work closely with employers to deliver employability skills programmes, and ultimately to help young people access the meaningful jobs that they want to do.
Like many industries, the security industry faces challenges in recruiting a diverse range of young people. A 2021 survey by the Security Institute’s Inclusive Security Special Interest Group assessed the diversity of the sector, with preliminary results finding that: 78% respondents identified as male, 82% of respondents identifying as White and 64% aged over 45.
With this in mind, we worked closely in collaboration with The Security Institute to establish the Secure Futures programme in 2019. The programme continues to inspire and attract young people from low income and diverse backgrounds to consider a career in the sector. The programme consists of a week of skills development, followed by a three-day business experience and mentoring for a minimum of 6 months provided by our security partners. Thanks to funding and support from a number of security industry organisations including The Security Institute, this year, we’ve delivered our fourth year of the Secure Futures programme in London and Manchester.
A cohort of 34 diverse young people took part during the Easter and May half-term to gain an insight into the security industry through a range of sessions. Each young person was selected from a pool of candidates due to their expressed interest in the Security sector (beating on average 4 other young people for their place). Volunteers from a range of organisations led sessions and share their industry insights with the young people.
Alongside developing skills in teamwork, communication, self-reflection, leadership and more, the young people are tasked with practical security activities. The Business Challenge, a “Dragon’s Den” style day, sees the young people work in groups to develop a response to a security focused real-world challenge set that morning. This year, their challenge was to look for hypothetical vulnerabilities within/and outside buildings in the area and present recommendations for improvement. After working together for just a few hours, they presented to a panel of judges in the afternoon. One judge said ‘I was impressed that the young people identified vulnerabilities in security programmes and recommended mitigations that some seasoned security professionals would overlook. It was a really tough job to pick an overall winner as the standard was so high’.
This is followed by a three-day work experience hosted by our security partner organisations. In Manchester, 83% of the young people rated their experience a 7 or above. In the words of one of the young people “There are a much wider variety of possible careers than I thought there was, and they are very interesting. It also provides high chance of being promoted in the cases we’ve seen”
The security industry strives the enhance the lives of all, which so poignantly benefits from the insights provided by diverse backgrounds. It’s clear that there’s more work to do to attract young and diverse talent into the sector. The EY Foundation is invested in building this programme, and with the support of even more organisations in the sector, we are committed to help more young people gain an insight into the industry. There are lots of ways to get involved, so, if this sounds of interest, please get in touch with Shruti Sidhu, Corporate Partnerships Account Manager at EY Foundation, firstname.lastname@example.org
We want to sincerely thank our volunteers, funders, business hosts and supporters across the security industry for your continued commitment to the Secure Futures programme. We look forward to welcoming the London cohort back in July for their business experience, and begin to build a bigger and better programme in 2024.