Youth unemployment in London is high, and many young people lack the knowledge and skills required to build fulfilling careers that provide a living wage: 9.4 percent of those between 16 and 24 years of age in London are unemployed, compared to a 3.6 percent unemployment rate among those between 25 and 64 years of age. This puts these young adults at risk of entering poverty unless an intervention strategy is used to bridge training and educational gaps.
Our pro-bono client, a London-based Education Business Partnership (EBP), aims to help these young people by delivering meaningful work-related learning to increase their education, employment, or training opportunities. The funding climate for the charity and education sectors in London continues to be challenging, meaning our client faces a difficult operating environment. The client looked to North Highland as a leading change and transformation consulting firm in order to create an action-oriented approach. Together, we recognised the need for prioritising their operational activities, targeting growth in the right areas, and having a clear strategy focused on creating a sustainable impact.
The London-based charity links schools with businesses to provide work experience, work-related learning, enterprise education, and careers education. It develops the skills, confidence, and motivation of young people in the local area and beyond. Working in partnership with businesses, education providers, and the community, the charity aims to inspire, support, and open doors for young people. This improves their access to the world of work, raising achievement levels and enhancing their future career prospects and lives.
The client found itself struggling to prioritise its many work-related learning programmes and was missing insight to focus on the right programmes. Moreover, it knew it wanted to broaden its impact but needed the data and ways of working to support its strategy.
Taking a collaborative approach, North Highland worked closely with the client in two phases:
We set out to assess the client’s portfolio of programmes to support more effective articulation, prioritisation, and alignment around initiatives. This also included product consolidation, where appropriate. In addition, we looked at potential growth strategies to broaden the impact among young people.
In order to complete the portfolio assessment accurately, and to support the second phase of work, it was vital to understand the client’s strategy and current state. Then, we completed a market and competitor analysis, which followed with outlining and prioritising growth options.
The recommendations from this first phase of work were focused on operational effectiveness and efficiency, so the client could effectively implement the chosen future growth strategy.
Phase two built upon the initial growth strategy, giving the client the tools and information to support entry into new markets and actionable next steps to deliver the recommendations:
- Created and defined tools, governance, and ways of working to support its existing portfolio and business development
- Undertook a vendor selection for a timesheet provider and assessed how this provider would be configured for the client
- Assessed the key information needed to inform strategy. This included the ‘market relevance’ of programmes and the reasons that buyers choose to work with the client, building a buyer’s survey to gain this information
- Completed a change impact assessment (CIA) for the implementation of the client’s new framework, ultimately helping to measure the impact of its programmes
We provided the client with growth recommendations that focused on two key strategies: product diversification and new market entry. These were the result of assessment against the guiding principles defined at the beginning of the project as well as market and competitor data analysis.
We enabled operational efficiencies by designing and recommending the setup of a governance forum to prioritise programmes using a purpose-built tool. The client can now select areas of focus using detailed data and insights. In this initiative, we also helped the client select a timesheet provider to meet its operational excellence requirements. This data will help guide strategy, influence costing and pricing, and inform the client about how it is distributing its time across activities. Additionally, through running the CIA, the client has built internal change capability it can use for future projects and transformation initiatives.
To improve business development and relationship management, we also built a relationship map and tracker to give the client a real-time view of relationships across buyers and partners. The document enables the client to measure and adapt on an ongoing basis to optimise business development opportunities. In addition, the client now has insight into trends and product diversification by using data dashboards that help interpret the data from the buyer’s survey.
These recommendations and tools will help the client undertake programmes and activities that enable it to achieve its long-term strategic goals.
As part of North Highland’s continued aim to build long-term philanthropy value focused on economic empowerment – rooted in our belief that the most impactful work occurs through long-term client partnership to disrupt root causes of poverty – we will be working with this client over the course of the next year.