Bridging the gap to employment with Virgin Media O2 and 20/20 Change

20/20 Change
20/20 Change
Holly Branson
Holly Branson's writing
Published on 18 March 2022

The partnerships forged by Virgin Media O2 team never fail to inspire me. A perfect example is the work they are doing with 20/20 Change to bridge the gap between education and employment for hundreds of young people from underrepresented ethnic groups.  

One of the main reasons Virgin Media O2 is able to create such valuable partnerships, is because they look to their own people for guidance. This particular project was spearheaded by Virgin Media O2’s Enrich network, which is made up of employees who are dedicated to giving a platform to people from all backgrounds.  

During the two-year partnership, 400 people will take part in 20/20 Change’s I Am Change programme. The programme helps 17 to 30-year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds learn critical skills in everything from leadership to mindfulness, while also gaining practical skills such as CV writing, interview techniques, digital development and financial literacy. Many of the graduates come from low-income households and are the first member of their family to go to university.  

Another brilliant element of the partnership is the guidance 20/20 Change is giving to Virgin Media O2 on how the business can better support its people from underrepresented communities. This two-way collaboration makes the partnership so much more significant and effective.

20/20 Change
20/20 Change

As applications for the next I Am Change cohort in April open up, the organisation is also rapidly expanding and going from strength-to-strength. In January, 20/20 Change became the fourth beneficiary of the Evening Standard’s £1M Skill Up Step Up programme – which gives 20/20 Change £250,000 to help even more people find meaningful employment, and create true inclusion in British workplaces. 

This mission is so important given that 16 to 24 year-olds are among the most affected by the economic fallout of COVID-19, while young Black Londoners are twice as likely to be unemployed as their white counterparts. Addressing these barriers is crucial to embracing a truly diverse and inclusive Britain, and it’s also crucial for organisations if they want to reach their potential and reflect the society they operate in.

(L-R) Marc Nicoue and Leanna Edwards - co-chairs of Virgin Media O2’s Enrich employee network, and Duro Oye, Founder and Chief Executive Officer at 20/20 Change
Virgin Media O2

I’m so pleased to see the positive impact that is already being made by 2020/Change and Virgin Media O2, and I’m excited to see the long-term benefits continue for many years to come. 

If you are a young person interested in joining the I Am Change programme, register for the April 2022 cohort right here.