GE2024: UK Youth responds to National Service proposal

26 May 2024

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Ndidi Okezie OBE, UK Youth chief executive officer, said: “At its core, National Service is based on the belief that young people should have opportunities for positive, sustained experiences which support their development.

“We can get caught up in debating the specifics of mandatory participation or the merits of various programmes, but whether it is National Service, or NCS‘s year of service, or gap years, or internships, or apprenticeships, the reality is different things work for different people and that is okay.

“Many countries have successful National Service programmes, but they have built infrastructure around the experience, ensuring it is an integrated stage in a young person’s life. The core issue we face is the lack of sustained investment to supporting youth development.

UK Youth chief executive officer Ndidi Okezie OBE smiling.
Ndidi Okezie OBE, UK Youth chief executive officer.

“As a society, we should ensure all young people have access to quality developmental experiences and professional support to help them navigate each stage of life. This is where youth work plays a crucial role, but millions of young people still lack access to the quality youth work support they need.

“Regardless of the specific programmes we may create, let us not get distracted by the discussion of them. What is more crucial is that we address the systemic gap in youth support, if we are to truly set up all young people to thrive.

“By focusing on providing consistent, high-quality youth development provision, we can create a society that nurtures its young people and helps them reach their full potential.”

Election calls

Ahead of the forthcoming General Election, UK Youth is urging all political parties to: 

About UK Youth

UK Youth is a leading charity with a vision that all young people are equipped to thrive and empowered to contribute at every stage of their lives. With an open network of more than 8,000 youth organisations and nation partners; UK Youth reaches more than four million young people across the UK and is focused on unlocking youth work as the catalyst of change that is needed now more than ever. To find out more, visit ukyouth.org 

UK Youth is involved in a range of programmes designed to help young people thrive, such as outdoor learning, physical literacy, social action and employability, including Hatch, a youth employability programme run in partnership with KFC. For more on UK Youth’s programmes, see ukyouth.org/what-we-do/programmes

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