International law firm Osborne Clarke is putting its money where its mouth is. The company is committing half a million pounds over the next three years to support leading charity UK Youth to help young people at risk of digital exclusion. This long-term funding programme aims to address the lack of digital skills and resources among young people.
“This is a critical time for young people and youth organisations, many of whom are still recovering from the pandemic and now face a cost of living crisis,” Bola Gibson, Head of Inclusion and Corporate Responsibility at Osborne Clarke.
“We are working with UK Youth to help bridge the gap for young people by funding essential digital skills and services to ensure they are not left behind.”
“Not everyone develops vital digital skills equally,” added Vicky Chenery, Head of Partnerships and Philanthropy at UK Youth.
“Young people from ethnic minorities, low socio-economic and rural backgrounds are often the most affected, as they lack the resources to support their development, creating digital hotspots across the country.”
She continued: “Osborne Clarke’s long-term commitment and support will make a big difference to young people’s lives by helping them reach their potential.
“The funding will be provided in the local communities where Osborne Clarke operates in London, Bristol and Reading. It will also be targeted at the country’s digital hotspots of greatest concern, where digital skills and resources are most needed.”
When it comes to young people’s digital skills, a recent 2021 Digital Youth report reveals that 42% or six million young people do not have access to a suitable device or broadband at home. But at the same time, 83% of young people believe digital skills are essential for their future job or career.
They are right when many hopes are placed on young people to fill the “digital jobs of the future”. According to the European Union, the demand for digital skills is expected to increase more than in any other area by 2030. In addition, better digital skills are often associated with better cognitive skills such as logic, processing, and attention.
How will the funding work?
Each grant recipient will receive support to address the specific needs of their community. The funding will be used to purchase new devices and software and to provide training and digital awareness. As a further sign of the firm’s commitment to boosting digital skills, Osborne Clarke offers pro bono support, volunteering and mentoring to all successful youth organisations.
In the first year, UK Youth will identify a list of grant-ready local youth organisations needing digital access. From this list, UK Youth will shortlist local organisations from Osborne Clarke’s offices and those across the country that are based in digital hotspots and have significant needs. Osborne Clarke and UK Youth will agree on 15-20 recipients and distribute long-term grants over three years.
In the second and third years, an additional £50,000 per year will be made available to selected organisations that did not receive an initial grant.
“Being a holistic and forward-looking firm is central to our strategy, which is centred on respecting our employees, clients and communities.
“While we regularly advise our clients on global trends that impact businesses, we also recognise that digital transformation creates challenges and opportunities across society. That’s why it’s so important for us to commit our resources locally to help alleviate digital poverty, both relative and absolute,” concluded Gibson.
Being a responsible and ethical business and employer underpins Osborne Clarke’s business strategy. Osborne Clarke For Good framework is the firm’s way of ensuring that it is a good corporate citizen, a good employer and a good business.