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Unlocking talent: how employers can make the most of student placements

Feb. 6, 2024

As we celebrate #T -Level Thursday, Matthew Harker, CEO and Co-Founder of MyPocketSkill, delves into the power that real, paid opportunities have for unlocking valuable employer-relevant skills.At MyPocketSkill we like to think we know more than a little about what employers want from students and school leavers. The constant refrain is how those entering the work of work don’t have the right skills, experience or mindset. But there are huge opportunities within 16-18 education to address this.Our experience comes from working over the past three years with over 120,000 students and employers, including over 10,000 employers who have engaged with us for digital opportunities: social media managers, content creators, website designers and those taking digital T-Level students.“Real” experience is the keyWe are not fans of fake work experience. The bygone days of the work experience student sitting bored by the photocopier is now thankfully less common. Instead, the central value to most employers from taking a student, is being able to make meaningful progress with a genuine business, public or charitable need, rather than relying purely on a sense of community mindedness or creating work for the sake of it. It may sound obvious, but at the heart of any genuine employer encounter should be a sense of value delivered on both sides. Also, responding to live employer requirements is the best possible way for students to develop employment-relevant skills and for employers’ requirements to be fed back into the curriculum.Remote placements can “level-up” opportunitiesWe see many students struggling because of the limited size of the local employer pool. This problem is particularly pronounced with students and colleges in rural/coastal locations and of course, it’s also linked to prosperity. We think it makes sense for students to be able to work with real employers but to adopt a mixed model that can also support an online engagement to help broaden opportunities. Even with the post-COVID rebound, we still see many tech teams that work fully or partly remotely, and this is a model which we expect to endure for the next generation of entrants. The online approach can yield a couple of tangible benefits; firstly, better equity of access to high quality employment tasters for those locations/communities where opportunities are scarce. Also, the ability to introduce a more diverse workforce for those employers operating in tech hubs. For instance, through MyPocketSkill we have seen students from rural coastal colleges pair up with London tech companies.Employment readiness is a teachable skillThe era of students being isolated through COVID and losing out on social interaction have not been kind towards student readiness. There are now real issues with preparedness to join the workforce. Specific areas include interview practice and preparation and CV and cover letter writing.Whilst students often don’t have a great deal of experience to put on their CV, we have found that by asking the right questions about future interests, related hobbies and interesting areas of their current coursework, we are able to build up a compelling student profile (mini-CV).Interview readiness, is another area where we have been providing tips and support and we encourage training on key questions and background research on the employer, role and expected tools/capabilities.Fund employers to start taking studentsWe find that even modest amounts of money are great motivators for both employers and students.Our research has found that students are much more valued and motivated when there is a financial contribution for their efforts. Through work secured on our platform young people turn their skills into bankable assets and, in the process, become more financially adept too.From an employer perspective, whilst you might assume that payment would be a barrier to uptake, we actually see the reverse – employers are more likely to actively engage with paid students to ensure that they deliver benefits and achieve value for money. Paid opportunities also help student engagement and support focus, for example enabling students to stick with a placement rather than having to work another job to support family finances.This year employers have been able to access dedicated funding to bring in students and these funds are valuable in removing financial barriers to hosting a placement and compensating employers for the investment of time required to set up a placement. But we believe that funding should be more widely communicated, more easily accessible and less restrictive for employers. A centrally administered scheme with a standard fixed amount per placement, tied to the placement being successfully completed would be the simplest possible solution.Keeping everyone engagedA complex combination of stakeholders is needed to be brought together to make a placement successful. This includes the employer, provider employer engagement lead and faculty, as well as student and often the influence of a parent/guardian. Keeping all of them onboard is a complex task. Employers firstly need to have an awareness of the pathway (itself an issue with the stubbornly low levels of awareness) and to understand the value they can derive from a placement. They will usually also need a lot of handholding at the initial stages and provider responsiveness is vital here. But the key to this equation is giving students (and those influencing their decisions) the confidence to believe that the qualification is valued and that the placement model will work. To get this right requires a wide range of positive, relatable and specific case studies.Giving young people the experience of earning and improve fairness of opportunityFinally, from the latest round of 16-18 qualifications there are still massive gaps in attracting underrepresented segments of the population (e.g. just 9% of digital qualifications were taken by female students). It’s surely time for a wider and more creative range of measures to encourage higher numbers and more diversity into the types of qualifications that employers see as most essential.Author:Matthew Harker - Co-founder and Co-CEO of MyPocketSkill. Matt is a sector specialist providing expert advice to influential organisations which set youth policy to improve financial capability.Email: [email protected]

T Level

How to Become the Jude Bellingham of Money-Saving: Demystifying Elite Sports, Money and Financial Education

Jan. 23, 2024

MyPocketSkill tutor and Brand Ambassador Harry, a football lover, unpicks *that* common myth about footballers and bankruptcy and explains why we need to reframe the conversation around sports and financial education.A quick Google search of terms like “elite athletes”, “footballers”, “money” and “financial education” in the UK and US brings up some frightening figures. Countless articles quote supposed XPro research which claims that “three out of five English Premier League (EPL) players declare bankruptcy within five years of retirement”, while “four out of five former National Football League (NFL) players go bankrupt or suffer severe financial distress within two years of retirement”. This is despite them earning an average £3 million every year.Dig a little deeper and the reality is a little bit less dramatic. Research from the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center (GFLEC) found that 16% of NFL players and 6.1% of NBA players will file for bankruptcy during retirement in the US, and there are no decisive (or even publicly available) statistics in the UK context. Despite these figures being lower than the widely spread “myths” suggest, however, there are enough stories of financial struggles from high-profile footballers and athletes like Wes Brown, Emile Heskey, and Bradley Wiggins to know that there’s still a big problem. Professional athletes experience very real financial vulnerability due to fluctuating incomes, short career spans, and unexpected injuries. This is compounded by the lack of financial education that young people receive both inside and outside the world of elite sports.These stories of financial difficulty amongst sports personalities have two key positive impacts. For one, they’re important for generating wider conversations around money between sports lovers. Sports’ unique, universal influence has the potential to engage people of all backgrounds around financial education and needs to be harnessed. Secondly, they’re crucial for directly initiating change in the industry. One successful example has been UEFA’s partnership with Santander to launch their Financial Education Training programme in 2019. The course teaches young footballers how to invest wisely, spot scams and build a support system around them, just as they are coming into success and wealth. Further afield, in the US, the congress passed a legislation that enabled student athletes to be compensated for their athletic abilities and that in turn resulted in universities looking to do more about financial education.But what about aspiring athletes and footballers? What about the other millions of young people who must start building their financial security?   Like UEFA and Santander’s training programme, MyPocketSkill celebrates actionable and “just-in-time” financial education that helps you save and learn when you earn. It follows a lot of evidence which says that hands-on and experiential learning is the best way to help young people become financially capable. Teens like me on the platform may not (yet!) be making the millions that Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka, Real Madrid’s Jude Bellingham and Chelsea’s Lauren James make, but every young person deserves to be instilled with the same financial confidence and literacy to manage their money. Instead of recycling old (and inaccurate) stats that elite athletes are bad with money and set for bankruptcy, let’s celebrate them as an example of young people who have tirelessly built on their skills from an early age. There's no doubt that some professional athletes have had money troubles, but this is a symptom of a wider problem in our financial education system. Footballers Lauren James and Alex Greenwood’s recent financial literacy campaign proves how brilliant of a role model they can be, and how valuable they are to conversations around money.Whether we’re talking about becoming a pro footballer or financially literate, practice makes perfect, but financial education has to begin with having some money to manage to begin with. Become the Jude Bellingham of saving and start earning to work on your money skills today.Written by Harry Ransley (MPS Ambassador). Edited by Annabel Talco (Policy and Impact Analyst).


Is University Still a Good Investment?

Aug. 18, 2023

For decades now, university has been the go-to option for the UK's brightest students, however with changes to student loans and other financial factors coming into play, is university still a good investment?Yesterday was an incredibly important day for many young people. The day they picked up their results and found out where they’ll be heading to university next month.Ignoring a slight dip in 2009, the number of UK university students has been continually increasing for the past 30 years. For many going to university is the go-to option, with some even choosing to go simply for the ‘uni experience’. However, with the rising cost of university loans and the cost-of-living crisis hitting students especially hard, should going to university still be the automatic post A-level choice?How has the price of university changed?Going to university has always been an important financial choice. However, this decision became increasingly more expensive when university fees were raised from £3000 to £9000 in 2010. Currently the average student in the UK finishes university £45,000 in debt. This can seem like an eye watering figure, but the argument goes that this is a worthwhile investment in your future.For students starting university next month, however, the reality of university as a financial investment has shifted slightly. From September 2023, students will be categorised under ‘Repayment Plan 5’ which will not only increase the duration of their loan from 30 to 40 years but also lower their repayment threshold. In actual terms, experts like Martin Lewis argue that this means the average student will pay 50% more for university. It also comes as no surprise that this change will place a bigger burden on students from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Now that students going to university will be faced with the reality of paying back more than their predecessors, the value of a university degree has again been called into question. In a recent article, the BBC points out that while university graduates will still earn more in their lifetime than those who did not go to university, the amount has reduced over time. It can also vary depending on the subject studied and university attended. The IFS found that on average, women in England studying creative or language degrees earned the same amount in their lifetime as those who had not gone to university. Meanwhile, for women studying law, economics or medicine their earnings on average increased by £250,000 over their lifetime. The value of a university degree must also be reconsidered when taking into account the low number of contact hours for students in the creative or humanities fields (typically 8-9 hours a week). The quality and amount of teaching further diminished with remote learning during Covid and recent strikes by university lecturers. Nevertheless, when deciding to go to university, many students are not driven purely by the financial benefits. Some young people choose to go to university due to a genuine thirst for knowledge, others may want to experience the ‘uni lifestyle’. Often, university is the first-time students live away from home and learn valuable life skills, such as cooking, cleaning and managing their own finances.Regardless of the motivation, university remains the ultimate post A-level goal for many young people. Alice B, a MyPocketSkill music coach, chose to pursue ‘the opportunity of a lifetime’, by completing a degree at a drama school abroad. Despite struggling to finance her studies abroad she was determined not to let this opportunity pass her by. Alice used her earnings from coaching drama and singing on MyPocketSkill to help put herself financially through university. “I’m not really sure how I would have made it through university financially without discovering MyPocketSkill. There were moments when I wasn’t sure how I would pay my rent or be able to buy enough food as I wasn’t eligible for a student loan or maintenance loan. I got through those moments because I had my earnings from teaching to fall back on.”What are the alternatives?A quick look at the numbers above shows that going to university is now a bigger financial risk than ever before. With students due to repay more of their student loan than before, selecting the right course and university has become even more important, as the value of certain degrees drastically diminishes.For some this might mean considering routes outside of the typical A-level to university path. Traditional options for this include apprenticeships, however, new T-level qualifications also offer an alternative route into employment. T-levels are a particularly great option for students who aren’t certain about committing to either route. They are technical qualifications which give students the practical know-how to enter into skilled employment or follow on with higher education (1 T-level is the equivalent of 3 A-levels). The mounting impact of the cost-of-living crisis will mean more students will be looking for ways to keep themselves financially afloat throughout university and after. For prospective students looking in, the financial costs of university are becoming higher than ever. Further education is still an incredibly meanwhile investment for many, however the growing financial pressure on students might just lead increasing numbers to question the value of this quintessential A-level to university pipeline.Pati Piotrowska is the Youth Policy and Impact Analyst at MyPocketSkill. She holds an MSc in Gender, Peace and Security from the London School of Economics.

MPS (8 of 69)

Thriving in the AI era: Three ways to future-proof your skill set

July 14, 2023

New AI technology has sparked fear of mass redundancies and changes to the labour market. We look at how GenZ can thrive in the AI era by future-proofing their skills. The emergence of OpenAI’s Chat GPT in November took the world by storm. The large language-based AI model is scarily impressive, with the ability to answer most questions, imitate speech patterns and access seemingly endless knowledge. These impressive developments have left many of us wondering, what does AI technology mean for the future of the job market? Or put more simply, will AI take my job? While the technology is still far from perfect, the global AI industry is booming with an estimated price tag of $136.6 billion in 2022. Some early predictions by Goldman Sachs estimate that 300 million jobs will be lost or diminished with the rise of AI. On the flipside ‘automation creates innovation’ and alongside jobs lost, new jobs will be created. Still, these predictions are ringing alarm bells, especially for GenZ, who are just starting to enter the labour market.Concerns about the changing world of work have led to a renewed sense of urgency for improving our skills, in a way which increases our resilience to the AI revolution. Instead of fighting against technological advancements, we should be focusing on future-proofing our skill sets. This is at the forefront of our minds, as we prepare to celebrate World Youth Skills day on 15th July, focusing on “the strategic importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship.” How to prepare your skills for employment, in the world of AI?Build up your durable skills As impressive as AI is, with its seemingly endless recall of knowledge, there are still many human skills that it can’t replicate. These are commonly known as durable skills. According to Mckinsey, the top three skills in the age of AI are: critical thinking, intellectual curiosity and flexibility. Working to foster and grow these is crucial if you want to set yourself apart and emphasise your human talent. One way to build up your arsenal of durable skills is through learning by doing. T-levels, internships and apprenticeships all offer alternative ways to learn, letting you put your knowledge to practical use. T-levels are new technical qualifications that include on the job-learning, while still equipping students with the knowledge and qualifications needed for university. We interviewed Tom Whitlow, director of Audio Skills, who recently hosted a digital t-level student placement. He found that: “When Alex [the student] started, interpersonal and communication skills were not his strong point. By the end of the placement, he grew in confidence in himself. His communication improved and I was receiving regular updates on his work. I think he really developed as a person, specifically as a working person.”Engage in life-long learningTechnology is always expanding and evolving, this has a direct impact on the job market, having the power to make certain professions redundant. It’s not a new phenomenon, as research shows that 60% of workers are in professions which didn’t exist in the 1940s. Nevertheless, developments in AI will likely result in changes happening at a faster pace than before. To stay competitive and relevant in a quickly changing job market, it’s vital to become a life-long learner. Upskilling and re-skilling are crucial to ensure you don’t get left behind. It’s not just about what you’re learning, but also how - with self-guided and online learning growing in popularity since the pandemic. Short bursts of video content, delivered regularly, work best for our ever-diminishing attention spans. This means life-long, self-guided learning can be as easy as following educational creators on social media. Make the most of AI technologyAI doesn’t have to be a threat, properly managed it can be an incredible asset for all of us. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t use AI to your advantage. Not only does it help with generating ideas, it can also automate boring, repetitive tasks, meaning more time to spend on the creative aspects of our work.Kirill, 16, is a digital teen on MyPocketSkill, who has found AI to be a complete game changer. “AI has allowed me to achieve more for clients, in the time they have booked. It also provides me with insights which I may have otherwise missed.”He has found that AI can be beneficial in breaking down barriers for content creation. “All my tasks are social media-based, and often clients may not have much usable footage to create reels, shorts, and TikToks, or they may not like being on camera. AI helps resolve issues like this. For example, using Studio D-ID can help you generate a spokesperson and Eleven Labs helps with generating voice-overs.” For those interested in AI creation, Kirill advises “learning how to build AIs will not only help you stay ahead of the curve but also help you to land bigger clients.”Putting these tips into practice on MyPocketSkillOn our platform, we aim to prepare GenZ for the world of work, especially as it changes and evolves with AI technology. When young people start earning on MyPocketSkill, they also pick up important durable skills, such as: managing clients, problem solving and time-management. Sophia, a 16-year-old tutor, found that “through MyPocketSkill, I have learned patience and communication can go a long way, whether that is when tutoring someone or deciding your availability for lessons or client calls.”For teens who want to develop these skills in a more formal way, we’ve created an upskilling academy, with handpicked courses to improve skills around social media, digital design, photography and more. Completing free courses like these, can improve a young person’s chances of getting booked, and at the same time prepare their skill set for the era of AI.Pati Piotrowska is the Youth Policy and Impact Analyst at MyPocketSkill. She holds an MSc in Gender, Peace and Security from the London School of Economics.

GenZ working at computer

Why Financial Education Makes Maths a More Relatable Subject

April 26, 2023

"So, what about maths?"I have to confess that I love maths. It appears that my basic secondary school maths education (acquired in a “developing country") was so solid that if I occasionally had to use a bit of trigonometry, quadratics or statistics in my former life as an investment analyst, it impressed my colleagues. It has also made me adept at helping both of my kids with maths homework, including my son who is currently taking his GCSEs (not that my help is necessarily always welcome). With all the recent government controversy around ensuring every teenager studies maths until the age of 18 (we can definitely thank them for stirring up the debate), my initial reaction was mixed (maths is essential in my view - both as a life skill and for intellectual development). This is until my studious, articulate son asked me what many kids ask - “Mum when will I ever have to use surds, unless I intend to build bridges?” And I had to agree. Not that maths is not important but that it seems irrelevant to young people. I strongly agree with Lucy Kellaway’s article in the Financial Times that “Forcing maths on teenagers is cruel and unhelpful”. Lucy Kellaway's humorous and insightful articles on all things office life related were one thing I used to look forward to on Mondays in my City days. They have always been my go-to place for sensible (if occasionally somewhat sarcastic and wacky) opinions. Since those days, Lucy Kellaway retrained as a maths teacher and founded an education charity Now Teach  which helps older professionals retrain as teachers. Meaning her views on anything related to maths and financial education should be taken seriously. She argues that what is important is developing an interest in maths during earlier years of school by making it practical and relevant. As a co-founder of MyPocketSkill, a GenZ platform for financial education, that enables 13–22-year-olds to Earn, Save and Learn about money - this is exactly what I want to happen as well. We see it every day on our platform, how earning money makes financial education (and therefore maths) more engaging. Money, as we see it, is a great motivator. And maybe, to paraphrase Lucy Kellaway, this more practical understanding of the subject will encourage more young people to engage with maths, in GCSEs and beyond. Zara Ransley is a co-founder of MyPocketSkill, a technology company with a mission to financially empower Gen-Z by connecting them to paid opportunities with households and businesses to help them earn, save and learn about money.

kids doing maths

Looking Beyond the Gender Pay Gap

March 8, 2023

To celebrate International Women’s Day this year, we delve into what other gendered inequalities lurk beneath the surface of the gender pay gap. The gender pay gap is one of the most obvious pieces of evidence pointing to continued forms of gendered inequality within our society. It reveals the difference in pay which women receive in comparison to men. In April 2022 in the UK, women in full time employment were paid on average 8.3% less than their male colleagues. This gap widens even further for higher earners and those aged over 40.  However, the gender pay gap is just the tip of the iceberg, as many other aspects of girl’s and women’s financial lives are impacted by gender inequality, including pocket money, financial confidence and how they spend their money, to name just a few. The gendered impact on earning, financial confidence and spending In their recent study, Starling Bank found that boys received on average 20% more pocket money than girls. When looking further into how girls’ and boys’ pocket money was earned, the research found that girls were more likely to be given pocket money for completing their chores (12%), while boys were more likely to be rewarded for good academic performance (14%). The findings point to how gendered stereotypes and tropes continue through seemingly ‘innocent’ financial decisions. The gendered impacts on young people’s financial opportunities and habits don’t stop there. MyBnk’s analysis of the youth gender financial capability gap showed that 43% of young women in the UK (aged 11-25) were not financially confident, 18% less so than boys. MyBnk’s findings also showed that ‘10% more of young women suffered anxiety and depression about money than their male counterparts’. Gender also affects how young men and women spend their money. When auditing 450 toys, games and books, Starling Bank found that items targeted at girls were 5% more expensive than those marketed towards boys. This trend continues into adulthood, commonly referred to as the ‘pink tax’. The discrepancy in pricing depending on whether items are marketed towards boys and men or women and girls, is often most noticeable in the personal care products sector. In the UK, women’s deodorant is 10.63% more expensive than men’s, and the difference between the price of women’s and men’s facial moisturisers is a mind blowing 34.28%.   How are we addressing this at MyPocketSkill? Listing the statistics paints a gloomy picture for the aim of this year’s International Women Day, that is, embracing not only gender equality, but also gender equity. On MyPocketSkill, we believe that young people, irrespective of their gender, should have equal access to earning, saving and financial learning opportunities. We actually have more girls signing up and completing tasks on our platform, than boys. One way that we ensure equal access and opportunity is by operating a structured and transparent pricing system. When young people join MyPocketSkill, they start on an age-dependent level (in line with national minimum wage) which establishes how much they can charge. Once they receive positive feedback and are booked and re-booked by new and existing clients, their level and price increase in line with their experience on the platform. This means that young people are rewarded fairly for their hard work. At the same time, because our levelling up system is structured, automated and transparent, we’re able to work towards eliminating the gender pay gap on our platform. As a site geared towards helping young people earn, save and learn about money, we also want to know what young people using MyPocketSkill think about the issues raised in this blog, and how we can move forwards to achieve a future without the ‘gender pay gap iceberg’. Below we’ve included some of their responses. “I'm studying a male dominant subject and am aiming to go into the same field. As a student I already feel inferior and overseen and I feel like I have to work twice as hard as my male counterparts. I worry about going into the industry and this disparity still being heavily in place" - Alice, MyPocketSkill tutor.“I would like people to both acknowledge the problem women face, but also act to change it. I think there is a lot said when it comes to women's issues, but rarely is anything truly done about it. The Pink Tax is a perfect example, many people know and discuss this issue, but there has yet to be any reform on why feminine products cost more, sometimes for the mere fact that they are pink.” - Nadira, MyPocketSkill social media manager. Pati Piotrowska is a Youth Policy and Impact Research Analyst at MyPocketSkill. She holds an MSc in Gender, Peace and Security from the London School of Economics. 

gender pay gap protest

How Jake Grew his Teaching and Time Management Expertise

Feb. 28, 2023

Jake, a musician from London, reflects on his experience teaching music on MyPocketSkill. Alongside being able to supplement his earnings, Jake has used his time tutoring to develop time management skills and teaching capabilities.Jake is a 22-year-old musician, based in Greenwich. After completing his degree at the BIMM (British and Irish Modern Music) Institute, he is “currently attending an internship at Soho Sonic Studios where I’m training to become a music producer and audio engineer”. Alongside his internship, Jake is also teaching guitar, bass and ukulele in schools, and through online and face-to-face private lessons. He found out about MyPocketSkill while still at university. “There was a post that went out saying the company was looking for young people interested in teaching”, says Jake. His interest was piqued further when he found out that MyPocketSkill was looking for music tutors to deliver lessons through Zoom. As this was similar to the work Jake was already doing, he decided to sign up. Getting booked was a quick and easy process, “I started messaging parents looking for guitar tutoring, one of them responded and I very quickly got my first booking that same week”Through his work on MyPocketSkill Jake has been able to increase his income as a self-employed guitar teacher. Using his eWallet on the platform has allowed him to start putting money aside from his MyPocketSkill earnings, towards buying his first car. “By keeping a portion of my earnings in my eWallet I’ve been able to grow my savings”, says Jake.Balancing tutoring on MyPocketSkill with other commitments has taught Jake how to manage his time effectively and stay organised. “Some useful tools that I like to use are Google Calendar and Google To Do List, these have allowed me to set up schedules and timetables to follow.” He has also found that scheduling in regular lessons and colour coding up-coming events means he knows exactly what his plans are for weeks and even months ahead. Aside from time management skills, through tutoring, Jake has also gained experience teaching students of different ages and skill levels, learning how to communicate with each individual child and ensuring his content resonates with them. For others who are considering joining MyPocketSkill, he advises “if you feel that you have a skill which you want to share with others you should definitely sign up and get some teaching experience. Sharing your knowledge and skills with someone can be a very rewarding experience. You never know, this could play a vital role in helping you decide whether you would like to continue teaching in the future and make it a career.”

Jake musician

How Darren Gained Followers and Improved Engagement for his Financial Coaching Social Media Accounts

Jan. 23, 2023

Darren, a Financial Coach, shares his story of using MyPocketSkill to connect with a teen social media manager, who has helped him grow his social media presence and following.Darren is a Financial Coach and qualified Financial and Mortgage Adviser. He first found out about MyPocketSkill when he was approached to take part in an Instagram Live session in summer 2022, hosted by MyPocketSkill. He says, “being interviewed opened my eyes to the value MyPocketSkill offers for young people.”He signed up to MyPocketSkill to find support with social media marketing. Darren was particularly interested in “the ability to work with energetic and motivated young people to help with my social media presence and grow my brand across different platforms.”The teen social media manager Darren connected with has helped him identify ways to  grow follower numbers on numerous social media platforms, as well as helping to create more engaging content. “The biggest benefit of joining the platform has been the ability to leverage the social media skills and creativity of the young person I hired.” In the past month, Darren’s Instagram has reached 9.6K accounts, with his user engagement going up by 49,000%.When asked if he would recommend MyPocketSkill to other households, Darren says, “yes, I would and I have.” He recognises that he can only speak from his own experience which has been extremely positive, remarking that “for my current situation this has been perfect.”In terms of providing opportunities for young people, Darren believes that MyPocketSkill is a great platform, “particularly for motivated young people”. This is because it engages those students and young people who want to differentiate themselves from their peers and grow their expertise. It provides opportunities to those who want to do something entrepreneurial. Their success pushes other young people, who might be on the fence, to also try their chances. “For this reason, I hope that MyPocketSkill will continue to grow in strength and numbers.”

Darren blog photo

How Esther Took Control of her Savings During her Gap Year

Jan. 17, 2023

Social media manager and Brand Ambassador Esther shares her experience of earning and saving money on MyPocketSkill, discussing how she has saved and budgeted during her gap year.Esther is a 19 year-old living in Basildon, England. She is currently taking a gap year after completing her A-levels in Physics, Business and Maths. She first discovered MyPocketSkill on TikTok in 2021 and signed up because she “wanted a way to earn money without sacrificing too much time away from my studies”. She began her earning journey on the platform doing social media management for a fashion company who wanted to increase their social media following and brand awareness. “I enjoyed working with a design brief as well as having creative freedom to create content.” Through working with her client, Esther learnt about the importance of consistent communication for building positive professional relationships.Esther found the freedom and flexibility of earning on MyPocketSkill particularly beneficial. She made the decision to take a year out of education so that she could gain more experience in film and event planning, alongside personal development. She says, “I didn't want to go back to working ridiculous hours like I did when working in hospitality during the summer, when I didn’t even have enough time to spend with those who I care about most.” Joining MyPocketSkill has allowed her to manage her time better. Esther has found that by being disciplined with her time she can ensure that all her work gets done on time. Since joining, Esther has increased her skill range and confidence levels, both through the social media tasks she has completed and her role as a brand ambassador for MyPocketSkill. “Becoming a brand ambassador puts me out of my comfort zone, from being behind a camera to going in front of it”, she says. “I initially wanted to back out because I was nervous that I wouldn't fit in, I'm so happy I didn't, because the community that I'm now a part of is incredible.”“I try to save most of my money as I’m a real big budgeter”, says Esther about her saving and spending habits. She has decided to split the majority of earnings from MyPocketSkill between her student savings account and the big goal of her gap year, learning how to drive. For other expenses she budgets around £25 a month, unless she has an event or birthday celebration coming up. “I do believe it's important to treat yourself after a long month of hard work so I might sometimes get a takeaway with my siblings or a new poster for my room.”When asked about what advice she would give to young people thinking about joining MyPocketSkill, Esther said, “just do it, the earlier the better!”

gap year student Esther

How can teenagers earn money online?

Oct. 7, 2022

Our Brand Ambassador Kirill shares his advice on how you can earn money online as a teenager, using MyPocketSkill:There are plenty of ways for teenagers to make money online. Whether you're looking for a part-time job or want to make a bit of cash on the side, the Internet is the best place to earn a bit of extra pocket money, and there are plenty of options available. In this blog post, I'll explore the best way for teenagers to earn money. No boring long surveys! No games with 1,000,000s of ads! Just a great, easy-to-use platform.After doing a lot of Googling and scrolling through TikTok I found MyPocketSkill. You have probably seen TikToks telling you to learn digital skills and to go around your local community offering social media management to local businesses. This is the same concept but a lot easier, a lot more community orientated and a lot more fun!Digital skills and social media managementOn MyPocketSkill you can learn digital skills like SEO, social media marketing, photography and more. These skills are in high demand and businesses are always looking for people who can help them with their digital marketing and photography. Once you have learnt a skill, you can offer your services to businesses on the site and start earning money!I think this is a great opportunity for teenagers to start earning money online, not only can you learn valuable new skills, but you can also start your own business and be your own boss! With MyPocketSkill, there is no limit to how much money you can earn, so why not give it a try?Musical and academic tutorsStill a bit hesitant? I know for some people ‘high-level technical skills’ can be very scary so don't worry if you don't want to learn SEO, social media marketing or photography. There are many other things you can do to earn money on the platform. Are you a talented musician? If so, there are lots of tasks looking for great music tutors who want to help younger kids learn about things like chords and music theory.Music, not your thing? Well, you can always be an academic tutor, this means doing 45 minutes tutoring sessions in a variety of subjects, ranging from Maths to English to French. All these opportunities can be done from the comfort of your own home. MyPocketSkill will even connect you with individuals and households who they think you'll be a good fit for.So, what are you waiting for? Sign up to MyPocketSkill and start earning today!Kirill Is Digital Marketer and Brand Ambassador for MyPocketSkill and has been closely involved with growing the platform, creating, and formulating content plans and partaking in outreach. He holds a certificate from Start-Up School created by Y-Combinator and a marketing certificate from Google Digital Garage.

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‘Buy Now Pay Later’? We say ‘Save Now Spend Later’ as the Better Alternative to Helping Young People Manage Their Money

Jan. 27, 2022

What exactly is Buy Now Pay Later?Labelled by some as the ‘future of millennial finance,’ Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) often provides a seemingly attractive method for buying items for Gen Z’s and those with limited finances. BNPL schemes enable consumers over the age of 18 to purchase items without having to pay until a later date, or in smaller instalments over a period of time often without interest.And as shoppers, it’s hard to miss the many Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) options available when purchasing items. BNPL schemes, are presented as a cheaper and more accessible alternative to credit cards, adding to its attraction for young people.An increasing number of online sites now give shoppers the flexibility to pay for items in monthly instalments, with options to choose from a number of BNPL providers, with industry leaders, Klarna, Clearpay and Laybuy, making regular appearances at checkouts.The appeal from consumers for BNPL options, is clearly evidenced by the growth of the market, in particular during the pandemic. Data from the FCA has revealed that in 2020 the use of BNPL nearly quadrupled to £2.7bn in transactions, with 5 million people using a BNPL product between the start of the pandemic and the end of 2020. Globally, it is predicted that in five years’ time, consumer spending on BNPL will reach $995bn, nearly four times higher than the current amount.Is BNPL helping to promote positive financial habits in young people?But given the industry’s rapid rise and the lure it presents to young people, should we be concerned? In short, the answer is yes – concerns have already been raised by many including Citizens Advice, the FCA and Which about the increasing use of BNPL, but more widely, its negative implications on the promotion of positive financial habits amongst young people.Financial education is so important in helping young people develop positive money habits and providing the confidence in making financial decisions later in life. Yet as it stands only 4 in 10 children say they have learnt about money from school despite its inclusion in the National Curriculum from 2014.Instead of receiving financial education, needed to promote better money habits and lay the foundation for improved life outcomes, young people are being drawn into this seductive yet extremely dangerous cycle of debt reliance as a suitable way to purchase goods and make money decisions through BNPL.As it stands, much of the BNPL market is unregulated and does not receive the same formal scrutiny that other financial products do. Consumers are effectively signing up to a credit agreement without full knowledge and understanding of the terms and conditions and therefore it is difficult to determine if customers are being treated in a fair and consistent way.Additionally, many BNPL platforms may only carry out soft credit checks on shoppers which are not visible to other lenders. As a result, a person can use BNPL schemes for many products across a number of platforms and find themselves in a large amount of debt.Research carried out by, found that on average, consumers using BNPL find themselves in 9 months of debt and face large penalties by providers for failing to meet agreed deadlines. 1 in 12 Klarna users claimed that they did not feel confident that they would be able to make repayments in time adding to the worries also raised by Citizens Advice of the negative effects BNPL is having on people’s mental health and their financial situations.The government has announced plans to increase the regulation of the BNPL industry and the FCA is expected to introduce new rules early this year. Fair4allFinance, have stated that in order for these regulations to be effective, the government needs to tackle unaffordable lending, promote better understanding of what BNPL actually is and ensure that all customers are treated in a more fair and consistent way.Yet despite this, the reliance on BNPL is still ultimately moving us in the opposite direction to promoting positive financial habits amongst young people.Why we need to push for ‘Save Now Spend Later’ insteadBNPL encourages unsustainable spending and the reliance on debt as a suitable way to manage finances and many young people using this option, are unaware that they are entering into a credit agreement, facing the potential to find themselves in an unmanageable amount of debt. In a society where we should be helping to promote healthy spending and saving habits, BNPL presents debt in a shiny and attractive light and encourages one to spend beyond their means.It is known that adults who do better with their money, grow up learning and developing positive financial habits from a young age. But yet a recent study conducted by the Money and Pensions Service has shown that 24 million UK adults don’t feel confident managing their money.Compared to other developed nations, the UK falls behind on the financial education available for children and young people and the gap becomes apparent with half of the population unable to make confident decisions with their money.The Financial Times, ‘Financial Literacy and Inclusion Campaign,’ was set up last year to lobby for change and raise greater awareness of the need to improve financial education in this country. With such low rates of financial literacy amongst the UK population, the rise of BNPL and its attractiveness to young people poses a substantial threat to promoting positive financial habits.At MyPocketSkill we believe It is crucial that we provide young people with the motivation, understanding and confidence to manage their money well and not encourage the use of services that promote the reliance of debt, otherwise we risk seeing Gen Z’s stuck in debilitating cycles of borrowing and repayment that become extremely difficult to get out of.Abigail is Youth Policy and Impact Research Analyst at MyPocketSkill and has been closely involved with the Money and Pensions ‘Learning by Earning’ pilot, testing what works and addressing gaps in financial education. She holds a degree in International Social and Public Policy from the London School of EconomicsMyPocketSkill, is an innovative digital technology company, seeking to financially empower young people and helping teens to earn, save and learn about money. Young people are able to earn money through tutoring, music coaching, babysitting, photography and digital design, and are then encouraged to save their money towards their own goals. Through this, teens are given the opportunity and personal responsibility to manage their money, make positive financial decisions and understand the value of money having worked for it themselves.

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Teens, Skills, Digital Natives and How They Can Power Small Businesses in the UK

Jan. 19, 2022

Finding a Perfect Social Media Manager: DigitalTeensDiscord, Snapchat, TikTok, YouTube, Instagram. For a small business owner this digital world can feel like a minefield to navigate and that’s even before we start talking about the Metaverse! It’s time consuming and simply out of the comfort zone. Yet, as the world is becoming even more digital with 4.9bn or 67% of the population online (even two years ago we did not imagine it was going to happen so quickly!), social media know-how is an absolute must to advertise your products and services and being a user of Facebook (as many of my generation are) is just not enough. According to a recent article in the Independent about research on the use of digital marketing, a staggering 40% of businesses are completely unaware of how to advertise their business on social media.But specialist agencies, offering social media management service, are often expensive, come with long lock-in periods and operate, it appears, on a “best efforts” basis. Sometimes it is not clear what you are paying for - and I am talking as a start-up owner having interviewed a number of agencies to help us to run our own social media accounts. This was until we stumbled on a solution … DigitalTeens! How to hire talented but affordable social media managers for your small business?The logic was that many GenZs are social media savvy and often tech savvy, being the first truly mobile first generation (although inequality still plays a part), some are studying digital marketing or a similar discipline and can provide affordable help and a personable service (and tons of enthusiasm). We hired a few to act as our brand ambassadors and it worked a treat! So, we extended that thinking and launched a new business line to supplement our existing TeenTutors (where young people tutor kids or their own peer group in academic subjects, music, chess and more).We launched DigitalTeens in November - weighing carefully all the arguments around young people running and managing a social media account, designing logos, creating content and planning social media strategies … And there is a lot of excitement at MyPocketSkill Towers. We have been inundated with requests from small businesses - from a small yoga studio, to up and coming artists, new coffee brand distributors, to doctor opening an aesthetics clinic, someone running a crochet business and anti-natal classes, just to name a few. The list is long and exciting!It turns out that the pain we experienced was not just our pain. And age is definitely not a barrier to providing this service, as one of our clients wrote about the service she received on our platform “it is never too late but very often not too early to start.” And It is clearly a win-win, did you know that being a social media manager is the #1 on teens’ jobs wish list!Can young people really help to grow my social media followers?In general, before we launched MyPocketSkill we saw a lot of scepticism about young’s people ability and willingness to do things. Sadly while this is anecdotal evidence, coupled with well documented impact on GenZs of the fallout from the pandemic means that unemployment rates are still very high at 11% vs 4% for the general population (see Resolution foundation research and government youth unemployment statistics). When we scoped our platform, ran focus groups and went round speaking to investors and customers one of the key responses was “teens will be flaky, it will never work”. But when we launched our first offering, TeenTutors – it very soon transpired the teens are not the flaky ones and definitely a lot less flaky than some of the parents who book tutoring (sorry! I am one of them).On our platform, teens are often specialists in what they choose to do already and just require a bit of structure and guidance. A year in, we know TeenTutors really work - the reviews on our site are glowing, and customers having tried one session, book in blocks. What they get goes beyond just being an affordable service - they get a very individual and personable experience, lots of enthusiasm and relatability to younger kids.As for DigitalTeens, while it is still early days, we are developing our service and it is clear that “upskilling” is an important part. We start by pointing to learning resources (Google Garage is fab and free resource) and emphasising that consistence is key with social media. We mandate DigitalTeens to have an initial call to set up specific business goals, look at business-related functions of different platforms, including analytics and some dive even deeper looking at how to optimise accounts and post for SEO and the best strategies to help grow more followers. We provide templates to help DigitalTeens manage their work and we are currently working behind the scenes to introduce some other fantastic enhancements.But, with the reviews we receive and the volume of requests, we already know that it is going to be huge and we have a host of excellent partnerships and support in mind to get young people to practise what they love and are already good at. So read the reviews below, tell your teens, tell your friends, tell any small business you know – help is at hand, DigitalTeens are coming!Going very well Harrison is going about the ask in a very professional way - Nick BFantastic and multi-talented. I love working with Christine who is great at communication, timely and always super positive. Highly recommended! - Jacqui CExtremely pleased with the work Muheez has done for me. From editing photos and videos to suit including new logo and branding. Everything he did was great and I was quite undecided yet specific about what I wanted done. So he would change things he had done to suit the changes in my head and ended up with a fantastic product. Nothing was ever an issue and will be sure to go back for more help in the very near future. Thanks again Muheez - Stewart SThe project went very smooth with Humaira with excellent communication throughout. She definitely went beyond expectations by designing and crafting four different options for my company logo. I would highly recommend her graphic design service. - William M I booked Nazifa to help me with some social media posts and some market research. I would highly recommend Nazifa to anyone who is looking for help with social media. Nazifa was polite and professional at all times and seemed very enthusiastic. I was very impressed with how quickly she worked, and the quality of work was also great. I would have no hesitation in booking Nazifa again or recommending her to anyone - Karen S ​Zara Ransley is co-founder of MyPocketSkill, a technology company with a mission to financially empower Gen-Z by connecting them to paid opportunities with households and businesses to help them earn, save and learn about money.


Talk Money Week 2021: Why Should We Be Talking to Young People About Money?

Nov. 10, 2021

This week is ‘Talk Money Week,’ a week set out to encourage conversations about money, something that is really important for our physical, mental and financial wellbeing.Conversations about money with children are especially important in enabling young people to have the right skills and knowledge of how to effectively manage their money both now and in the future. Research has shown children who have grown up with parents/carers who engage in conversations about money from a young age, tend to do better with their own money when they get older.As adults, making decisions about our money is something that we all have to do regularly. We decide how much of our salary we want to save, whether certain purchases are financially smart, how much we want to budget for a new items and so many more. The financial decisions that we make and how we choose to manage our money have big consequences and so learning how to do this well is really important for our wellbeing.Learning about money from a young age, is therefore a great way to develop positive financial habits, equipping children with the right tools for how to manage their money and make big decisions when they become adults.Giving children the financial responsibility to make their own saving and spending choices is a great way to create learning opportunities from a young age on how to best manage their own money. Whether it be through pocket money they’ve made from chores around the house, or money they’ve earned from a job, encouraging children to independently make their own decisions can help develop positive financial habits from an early age.Here at MyPocketSkill we give young people the opportunity to ‘Earn, Save and Learn.’ Through the money they have earned by completing tasks such as tutoring, babysitting, music coaching and social media jobs, teens are able to save their money directly on the platform, towards savings goals they have set themselves. By doing this, young people are learning the value of money, by having put in the time and effort to earn it, and the importance of managing it well through saving.We spoke to Sho, a young person on the platform doing tutoring, about his experience saving with MyPocketSkill and why he thinks it’s important.“I haven’t really been taught about money at school, but through tutoring with MyPocketSkill, I’ve now had experience with saving money, learning the best ways to spend your money and how to budget and make sure you’re not spending your money on things that are not going to really benefit you. Through MyPocketSkill, I have been able to save towards certain goals to make sure I have discipline with how I spend my money.I think it’s important for young people to talk and learn about money, so you’re getting ready for when you turn 18 and older and when you become independent at university for example. Money becomes a big thing especially when it comes to saving and I think if you don’t have prior knowledge in these areas, when you start earning money, it’s easier to get into bad habits of spending all your money instantly.”You can find out more about Talk Money Week and MyPocketSkill here.

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Instagram for Small Business: how to attract new followers

Sept. 16, 2021

For any small business, social media is an extremely important tool to attract and gain new followers and ultimately help grow your business.With around one billion monthly active users, Instagram is the perfect way to not only promote your business but also find and engage directly with your audience. But being able to convert visitors into engaged followers and then eventually paying customers, requires time and thought.So here are our 7 tips to attract Instagram followers and help your small business grow!Know your audience wellGiven the large number of users on Instagram, finding and getting to know your specific audience is essential in in being able to be strategic with your page and the content you produce.A good place to start is thinking about the customers you already have and how they might engage with the platform.Think about and ask yourself questions about the audience you are trying to reach:What age are they?Where do they live?What type of content does this demographic typically engage with?Are there any challenges with engaging with this group?Researching your target audience is really going to help with determining your social media strategy and the direction you will take your Instagram page in.So put in the time, do your research and know your audience well!Be strategicNow you’ve identified your audience and you’ve researched them well, it’s important that you now think strategically about the best ways to attract and gain the most followers.Having a social media strategy will be very helpful and here are some things you can think about when putting it together.Plan aheadPlanning your content ahead of time, will give you the most freedom to really think about what you want to produce, how much you post and gives you the time to ensure that everything you create is in line with your brand aesthetic and directly engages your audience.Research hashtagsUsing hashtags is a great way to make sure your Instagram posts reach a really wide but targeted audience. Instagram allows users to search and follow hashtags which puts content directly on a user’s personal feed.On every Instagram post you can put up to 30 hashtags, making the possibilities endless, so why not experiment and test out the hashtags you use and utilise tools like Display Purposes to see what works best for your small business.Make the most of Instagram analyticsInstagram provides valuable information that helps you really understand your audience well and the best ways to engage with them.Using the Instagram Insights feature allows you to see how many accounts you’ve reached, the top locations of your audience, demographic information like age and gender and also gives you a breakdown of the most active time of your followers.Understanding and making the most of this information will not only help know your audience well but will also allow you to post and create content most suited to your followers.Optimise your bioBeing able to make sure visitors to your page actually hit that follow button, requires users to have a clear understanding of who you are and what your business is about. Instagram gives you 150 characters to do this in your bio, so it’s really important this is clear and draws attention.A good Instagram bio provides a brief but clear description of what you do, a link to a website or other relevant pages and shows your personality. Using emojis are also a great way to do this.Consistency is keyNow that you’ve brought followers to your page, through your great bio and strategically planned content, it’s time to be consistent with when you post.The more content you put out there, the more engagement you are likely to get which in turn will help attract new followers to your page. However, alongside the quantity of your posts, creating good quality content is also important in helping to grow and engage with your followers.Scheduling your posts is a great way to ensure the consistency and quality of your content, so make use of platforms that help you do this.Vary the types of content you createInstagram offers a variety of different ways you can create content and utilising this, is a good way to help reach and connect with a much wider audience.The platform offers more than just photo sharing features, but as a business page you have the ability to create Instagram Reels, go live to your followers, create 24-hour stories, and produce content for Instagram TV.So, make sure you experiment with the different types of content to keep your followers engaged and excited.Find your voiceYou want your Instagram page to have a personality and connect with your followers on a human and personable level. So, take some time to think about the tone and voice you wish to use on your page.Whether it be a funny one, an informative one or anything in between, it’s important to create a voice that is unique to your business and reflects the passions and personality that you want people to see.Speak to young people!As digital natives, young people have grown up in a world surrounded by the internet and technology. Knowing how to use social media comes as almost a second language, so drawing on their knowledge and skills is a perfect way to provide your Instagram page with a fresh perspective on what will work to attract more followers.Nearly 40% of Instagram’s users are under the age of 24, and so if you are looking to increase your following, a good place to start is by talking to the people who use the platform the most.Bringing young people onto your team to help you make your content and regularly consult with them to hear more about their ideas and the latest trends.~Ultimately you want your Instagram to showcase your brand in a creative yet strategic way. Knowing your audience, utilising analytical information and researching your content will engage your followers and help to attract new ones. Finally, speak to young people! Get their perspective on the latest tricks and trends and bring them into your social media strategy. They will help you grow!


Earn, Save, Learn.. Global Money Week 2021

March 26, 2021

It’s Global Money Week this week, an annual awareness-raising campaign on the importance of ensuring that from an early age, young people are financially aware and can acquire the skills to achieve financial wellbeing.We are delighted to see the fantastic initiatives taking place all across the world for a cause we are so devoted to. At MyPocketSkill, we are so aware of what’s lacking in financial education for young people in the UK and are working hard to help the UK government find innovative ways to test what works in teaching young people about money. Our “Earn, Save, Learn” programme enables teens to earn money, acquire skills and work towards set savings goals.The theme for this year’s campaign is “Take care of yourself, take care of your money”. Since starting in 2012, the Campaign has reached over 40 million children and youth in 175 countries worldwide.So, how has MyPocketSkill encouraged young people to “Take care of yourself, take care of your money”? We spoke to Anna, 16 from Tonbridge to find out.“MyPocketSkill has taught me that to earn money you have to work hard and be motivated. MyPocketSkill has made this easier by inspiring me to earn money whilst having a lot of fun using skills that I love. One of the key factors MyPocketSkill has taught me is to be more financially aware. They have helped me achieve this by enabling me to set a savings goal that I work towards. An example of learning to be more financially aware is the savings spreadsheet I have made, where I log my lesson earnings and at the end of the month I see how much I have saved overall and have an idea of how close I am to achieving my goal. Without MyPocketSkill, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to learn about managing money wisely.”Check out Global Money Week here and more about MyPocketSkill’s Earn, Save, Learn programme here.

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Keeping Safe While Babysitting During COVID-19

May 18, 2021

This week we have launched our Teen Sitters programme, an initiative that connects young people to paid babysitting opportunities in their area. Pre-pandemic, babysitting was one of our core paid tasks available for teens. We’re happy to share that it’s back with a bang!You may be wondering if childminding is possible in the current climate, or whether it’s safe to go to do so. Here’s all the information you need to know to make sure you keep yourself and others safe and stress-free.Is Babysitting Allowed?The official Government Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for England states that childcare in the home is permitted. However, please follow the latest guidance, as the situation is constantly evolving.If you live in Scotland, the official guidance can be found here.If you live in Wales, the official guidance can be found here.How Can Young People and Families Keep Safe During a Babysitting Task?Where possible, all adults should maintain social distancing of two metres. Childminders should wash their hands immediately on arrival (with soap and hot water for 20 seconds) and remove their shoes and coat.It’s important to maintain a fresh circulation of air in the house, so keep internal doors open. If the weather is good, Sitters should aim to spend most of the time outside to minimise the risk of infection.Before and after the booking, parents should clean regularly touched objects and surfaces (such as door handles, kitchen items and toys).Everyone should make sure that if they cough or sneeze, always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands), bin tissues immediately and wash your hands afterwards.How Should I Travel to a Babysitting Task?You can find the most up to date travel information dring COVID-19 here.How Can I Join Teen Sitters on MyPocketSkill?Everything you need to know about babysitting and pet sitting on MyPocketSkill is set out in our Teen Sitters Guidance for young people and families.


What is the best age to start volunteering? We say start young!

March 16, 2018

Picture courtesy of parkrun St AlbansAs a family we love parkrun – a free, weekly, timed 5k run, managed by a network of volunteers. All four of us run most weeks and both of my kids benefit immensely. Not only does it help their fitness levels - at 6 years old my daughter completes her 5K in 29 minutes, well ahead of me – but it also boosts her confidence as she notches up new personal bests.  An additional benefit of being part of the parkrun community is that they have the opportunity to give back and volunteer to help run the event. Occasionally by helping to put finishing tokens in order, sometimes acting as tail runners - ensuring that no-one is left behind - or as marshals (standing on the side and saying something encouraging to the runners or loudly ‘keep to the left’). Most of the time they probably mess about. But it is a little bit of responsibility, learning how to contribute and being recognized by their local community for their efforts.Whilst this blog is not about Parkrun per se but about the benefits of volunteering from an early age, I would like to take an opportunity to say that parkrun is an incredible organization. In my view, in its 18 years, it must have done more for the NHS than any recent government policy. It is free, it is regular and it is inclusive. Doctors are known to prescribe parkrun for all sorts of reasons from improving fitness to helping with depression. It is run by volunteers and – this is my favorite bit - it is one of the few visible ways where young kids can see their parents volunteering and volunteer alongside them.The other charities I could think of that achieve that kind of family volunteering ethos in the UK are The Woodland Trust and The Wildlife Trusts. And I credit our experience of planting trees in Heartwood Forest through The Woodland Trust with the inception of the idea of MyPocketSkill, the platform I co-founded, which connects 13-19 years old with local paid and volunteering tasks – currently operating in Brighton and St Albans.So why should you volunteer and when is the best age to start? Both the volunteers and the groups they are helping see the positive effects of volunteering. The health benefits for volunteers are widely acknowledged - the NHS 5-year plan even identifies a need to encourage community volunteering. It can also build confidence, provide new skills and aid social integration. For example, #iwillcampaign, which aims to increase youth participation in social action, reports that 67% of employers surveyed by Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development say that entry-level candidates who volunteer demonstrate better employability skills. Skills such as teamwork, communication and community understanding. That is significant! At MyPocketSkill we have heard a number of great stories from our young members whose volunteering has helped them acquire a particular skill or area of expertise. Many of these have led to other positive things.And yet despite this overwhelmingly positive impact, the proportion of the population choosing to volunteer has stayed broadly the same in the last 15 years, according to Community Life Survey – at 39% of men and 42% of women. There are more young people volunteering, with age category of 16-24 at 51%.So what makes people more likely to volunteer? According to #iwillcampaign  - starting young increases the likelihood of staying involved. The survey they ran found that committed volunteers, those who are consistently involved, started before they were 11 years old. Another important factor is making volunteering part of the routine - another nod to parkrun, who are there every Saturday morning sunshine or rain. And finally, making it meaningful. There are many ways to do that. With my own kids I make sure they get the full picture. So if they are fundraising for a local school, they meet beneficiaries. If they hand out leaflets helping the political party we support, they get the full context on the issues involved.To conclude, as a parent I see huge benefits from getting my kids involved in volunteering.  I see them happily doing things that ordinarily they would complain about because they see other people doing it. They come across role models by interacting with people, who are accustomed to giving back. So get your kids volunteering today. And if you are at a loose end on where to start – start with Parkrun – it is easy - and make volunteering your norm. My daughter receiving her ' most improved Junior runner' from the team of volunteers. Picture courtesy of Parkrun St AlbansZara Ransley is a co-founder of MyPocketSkill, a digital start-up, which connects young people, aged 13-19, with paid and volunteering opportunities.


Babysitting: let us think outside the box

April 4, 2017

As we get closer to schools breaking up for the holidays, arranging childcare is necessity for most parents. While there are a variety of clubs out there, hiring a young person to do some babysitting whilst entertaining them and helping with some school work can be an option worth considering.According to Sarah-Jane Butler, founder and director of Parental Choice, "ad-hoc holiday childcare is by far the hardest form of childcare to find and can result in parents having to take time off work or paying in excess for camps and external childcare, especially if plans are made at the last minute. Using the skills of teens to babysit whilst you work or to top and tail other plans that you have made can provide welcome relief for both you and your children, whilst enabling young people to earn money during their own holidays.”So what are the benefits to hiring a teenage babysitter? We highlight three:Positive role model for your kidsFrom being able to discuss what to study for A-levels, why it is important to focus in school, sharing experiences and favourite hobbies. Teenagers can be very effective role models for younger kids, as they may be able to relate better to each other. So when you think teenage babysitters think good role-models for kids.Productive childminding: sharing skills and interestsWith babysitting it can help to think outside the box. Teenagers often have skills and interest that they can share with your kids. So playing / coaching sports, doing art work or even practising that piano can all be part of the babysitting package and don’t forget maths homework too! And the likelihood is that your kids may appreciate and listen to teenagers' advice more than sometimes they do to yours. Plus teenagers have boundless energy - just like your kids - so are more likely to do fun active things.A cost-effective way of uninterrupted work-at-home?Teenagers can sometimes represent a very cost-effective way of providing stop-gap babysitting and there are plenty of situations which fit perfectly with the lifestyles of modern working parents. For instance, you can be working at home or catching up on admin and paying a babysitter to do something useful with the kids - helping with homework or playing football in the garden.Working from home interruption-free can be a gamble without a babysitter - remember this guy?MyPocketSkill connects teenagers with households and businesses to create earning opportunities for them. Find TeenSitters that you can book here


Looking Back at One Year of Our £5 for 45 Programme

April 13, 2021

In April 2020 we launched our £5 for 45 programme to help young people earn money during lockdown. 12 months later, there’s been over 3,000 transactions on the platform and over 1,000 teenagers have earned money and gained experience on MyPocketSkill at a time when opportunities for young people have been few and far between.To mark one year of £5 for 45, we are looking back at the impact achieved by the programme and chatting to some of our brilliant and capable teens.Aki has been tutoring piano and violin on MyPocketSkill for over a year, helping many students with music exams such as ABRSM. Now 17, Aki is a highly talented musician who has won multiple gold medals at North London Music Festival and performed at Royal Albert Hall and Royal Birmingham Music Conservatoire. He says “I have been tutoring using MyPocketSkill for quite a while now. It’s a wonderful feeling having money in my wallet which I can use on anything I want. I was even able to buy a really nice computer for myself which my parents would never have got for me. I think MyPocketSkill is a wonderful platform for teaching and learning!”.Thanks to our Levelling Up system, Aki started out earning £5 for a 45 minute music tutoring session and quickly became a Level 6 Teen. This means Aki can name his own price for lessons and currently earns £15 for every 45 minute session.On the platform, young people can offer tutoring in all academic subjects (Maths, English, Science - Biology, Chemistry, Physics, History, Geography, Music, Design, Technology and Art), and at all levels (KS1, KS2, GCSE, A-Level). Teen Tutors can help with ongoing home work and with exam preparations (11+, 13+).We are proud of the success of the £5 for 45 programme in helping thousands of young people like Aki to earn money, build skills and keep busy through a tough 12 months. As ever, we are so impressed with the driven, capable and talented teens who use MyPocketSkill.Going forward, there are plenty of exciting opportunities coming up on the platform. Make sure you’re signed up and don’t miss out!

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Celebrating Our Team on International Women's Day 2021

March 8, 2021

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #ChoosetoChallenge - to call out inequality and work towards an inclusive world. We’re proud that the majority of our small team are women and today we want to celebrate them and their commitment to the values of IWD2021. Meet the team! Zara is a co-founder of MyPocketSkill, mum of 2, who had a successful career in the male-dominated industry of financial services. Today Zara has been recognised for her entrepreneurship in tackling society’s challenges as a Women In Innovation Award Winner 2021. Her work in creating a financially empowered Gen Z, helping young people to earn, save and learn about money during COVID-19 is a testament to her commitment to help others. Clova is the Community Manager at MyPocketSkill, mum of 8 year old Zach, who enjoyed a successful career in operations and consulting before joining the team. Clova is the point of contact for all users on MyPocketSkill, ensuring the needs of every person are met with her warm and friendly demeanour. Ciara is the Research and Youth Policy Lead at MyPocketSkill, an LSE graduate in Social Policy, who is deeply invested in creating a more equal society. Ciara makes sure MyPocketSkill remains a leader in informing and shaping youth policy to improve young people’s lives - largely around financial education for young people. We strongly believe in the importance of financially empowering young people, especially young girls, as according to research they often fall behind in this area. That’s why we’re committed to our “earning is learning” approach, equipping young people with the skills they need to manage money and create positive financial habits for life.To celebrate International Women’s Day why not do these three simple things?Donate to the Young Women’s TrustFollow BlackGirlFinanceUK on Instagram Tune in to one of the many brilliant IWD events here. 


Top Tips to Support Young People Learning Financial Literacy

March 3, 2021

When we talk about financial education, or as it is sometimes called ‘financial literacy’, it is surprising to hear that children as young as five start building attitudes and habits around money. And yet in the UK, only 48% of children and young people currently receive a meaningful financial education. That means more than half of the UK’s youth population is missing out on crucial financial life skills that they need for the future.Coupled with the significant impact of COVID-19 on young people’s education and employment opportunities, it’s clear that we must support our teens wherever we can.At MyPocketSkill, our vision is to create a financially empowered Gen Z. We do this by working closely with young people and connecting them with skills-building and money-earning opportunities. We help young people learn about money and are experts in what works in the field of financial capability. Having worked extensively with the Money Advice Service and the Money and Pensions Service to research the most effective ways to instill good financial habits in young people, here are some of the key tips we want to share:Learning (and Earning!) By DoingResearch shows young people can develop key skills like self-reliance and financial responsibility through earning their own money. Whether this is by doing chores for pocket money or giving online homework help via the MyPocketSkill platform, learning and earning by doing means teens are more likely to retain information, understand the value of money and develop skills that prepare them for working life.Set a Savings GoalEncourage young people to set a savings goal. Getting them to think about the future and what they may need to save for is a good way to introduce learning about money from a young age. Saving towards an identified goal not only encourages effective financial planning but will mean they are much less likely to overspend. Whether they are saving for a new phone, a guitar or university fees, setting medium and long term savings goals can help guide positive financial decisions.The 50/30/20 RuleExplain the 50/30/20 rule. This is a simple way to keep track of spending as a young person and an excellent habit for the future. Identify your needs - 50% of your money should be spent on these. Identify your wants - 30% can be spent on these. The remaining 20% should be saved towards your savings goal or emergency fund.These simple tips can instill long-lasting positive financial habits in young people and are even more crucial at a time when COVID-19 has meant job losses are hitting young people hardest. Research recently found that 49% of 16 to 24-year olds are feeling more anxious about money than they were six months ago and that one in five (20%) of those aged between 16 and 24 are struggling to pay their bills.How can MyPocketSkill help? We work hard to provide solutions for young people by offering earning opportunities combined with simple financial education at teachable moments. Megan, 18, from Kent says: “MyPocketSkill has offered me structure and a way to earn money and get experience in tutoring at a time when it seemed impossible for me to get a part time job”. Our work also has a double impact - matching young people who are eager for paid experience with parents who are faced with the challenges of juggling working from home and home-schooling their kids. Roy, a parent says: “MyPocketSkill has proven to be a lifesaver while in lockdown. I was able to find fun activities for my nine year old, which keep her busy for hours every week.”You can learn more about how to teach young people about money here.

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Three new (year) rules that will form good financial habits for my kids

Jan. 12, 2020

As a family we are not into New Year resolutions (apparently 80% of them fail and we are never that well organised!) and more into trying to introduce behaviours that build habits over time. The important point with behaviour change is to keep things simple and actionable. With that in mind we came up with the golden rules of pocket money to practice with my two kids (Harry, 12 and Nadya, 8).Research says that earning pocket money is more meaningful than being given pocket money.Action: together with my young stakeholders we constructed a list of simple household tasks. Kids already do tasks (when nagged by me) and get pocket money - but it is linking the two, less the nagging. Harry will continue doing recycling, offloading the dishwasher and putting his own washing away, while Nadya oversees washing and keeping her room tidy - they also have to be on top of their studies. They will both earn their age in money (research says pocket money should be sufficient to satisfy small age appropriate wants but not excessive). We agreed on 80/20 rule - that roughly as long as it is mostly done and largely without reminding, they qualify. 70/30 will also do. Savings challenge - saving behaviours are formed very early in life. At the age of 8 it is clear that my daughter is a spender and my son is a disorganised saver (he saves sporadically and not for anything in particular). The key rule for savings is that it should be consistent.Action: so we decided to implement a savings challenge I have read about recently. You start with saving a penny per day and then keep adding one more penny each day, exactly for 1 year. On the last day of the challenge you will pay £3.65 into your saving pot and you should end up with £650! Yes, it is that simple. Learning by doing is key to financial education and £650 is a lot of pocket money.Action: a good rule would enable my kids to enjoy some of it as a reward for a year of being patient and sticking to it but also consider how to multiply their pennies. We will probably split their pot into 3 parts - 1/3 will be spent as they like (or not if they do not have any big spending ideas), 1/3 will be put somewhere safe - a bank or an ISA and 1/3 of the money will be sent to work. And this is where (with some guidance) they will practise experimenting. We won’t do anything crazy (like bit coins … yes I still think it is crazy) but maybe we could come up with a plan on how to invest taking calculated risks. Forming habits takes time. So the simple rules we devised will put good financial habits into place for those two for many years to come. Or at least they should. 

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Young People: Good Financial Behaviour Habits for Christmas and for Life!

Dec. 22, 2020

This Christmas will be like no other. Newspapers and radio stations are busy reporting on COVID-19 restrictions and what this means for families around the country. Christmas decorations, festive food and films suddenly hold more importance in creating that happy holiday season feeling in light of so much uncertainty. And, of course, Christmas presents! We can all go spending overboard on gifts during the festive season and more so this year. With so much time being spent indoors in the past few months, online shopping has shot up - the Office for National Statistics said that since February, online sales have increased by 52%. It is easy to spend online.Overspending at Christmas is known to have knock-on effects for financial wellbeing and that includes for young people in 2020. Nudge Global’s recent research found that 49% of 16 to 24-year olds are feeling more anxious about money than they were six months ago and that one in five (20%) of those aged between 16 and 24 are struggling to pay their bills.So, how can we enjoy Christmas whilst also practicing positive financial behaviour? There are some basic rules:Set a realistic budget. This will help to make sure you don’t overspend and avoid extra worries over the holidays. It is easy to get carried away without planning in advance.There are some fun free activities we can still do. So why not meet up for a festive walk and see some Christmas lights?Avoid borrowing. Nudge Global’s research found that 34% of those with poor financial literacy are in more debt now than six months ago. It may be tempting to take advantage of a quick loan but high interest rates will ensure bite-in in January!Shop local and check out charity shops. There are plenty of excellent deals to be found in local charity shops, who need support now more than ever, as Miss Money Ready points out here. Low-cost gifts and donating to a good cause - everybody wins!As well as these tips, Tim Perkins, CEO of Nudge Global, recently shared three tips for young people to improve financial wellbeing like instilling good financial habits, learning about how money works and saving funds for a rainy day.At MyPocketSkill, we are interested in how to foster these aspects of positive financial behaviour in easy ways all year round for young people, not just at Christmas time. We think learning-by-doing is extremely important. Young people need to be given the opportunities to put these tips into action and experience the benefits of their own financial decisions. Behind the scenes, we’ve been working on an exciting new project for months to address just this that will be coming soon in 2021! Happy holidays and stay financially healthy!

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Child Trust Funds - know what they are? If you are turning 18, you should

Oct. 12, 2020

MyPocketSkill mission is to hep Gen Zs to become more financially capable. We do so by enabling them to earn, save and learn about money. So it is good to know that as of September 2020 those turning 18 are now able to access their Child Trust Funds. Let us tell you what they are.The Child Trust Funds were set up in 2005 and children born between September 2002 and January 2011 were eligible. These funds, now defunct, were replaced with Junior ISA’s in 2011 but the accounts remained open and active and happily their values have increased.Now that many beneficiaries of the Child Trust Funds are turning 18, it bears the obvious question for teens: what shall we spend the money on? However for us, with financial capabilities hat on, it goes beyond just the spending question. For the young people beginning to receive these payments the question is also what financial skills and knowledge do they have to understand their options for these payments? What conversations can parents have to foster good financial habits and planning for the future?Financial education was first introduced into the national curriculum 6 years ago in September 2014, in recognition that the ability to manage money well is an essential life-skill for young people. However in 2019, just 8% of young people said they learned about money skills in school and 17% said they were self-taught. As well as this, 82% of young people said they wanted to learn more about finance and money. So what can be done?Research says that financial education is at its best when delivered at relevant time and in practical learning-by-doing way. The Child Trust Fund payments are a perfect opportunity to have some a conversations with young people about financial wellbeing. Research, plan and implement some strategies to make sure they get the most out of the payments. Discuss investment and how it works, how the lessons they learn with this money can be applied to financial decisions for their future.In today’s challenging circumstances, spending time equipping young people with these tools of financial skills is more essential than ever for the future.


Helping to Build Financial Capabilities of Young People in the Time of Covid-19

July 20, 2020

The past few months have fuelled an ongoing public discussion surrounding youth employment, the challenges for future generations and priorities for government in addressing the demands of these "unprecedented times" (there we said it). As a company, MyPocketSkill, is focused on two things:Enabling young people to earn money and during the lockdown we have managed to support hundreds of teens to do just that. The feedback has been nothing short of excellent from both young people and parents. Helping to building good financial habits is another important strand to what we do and it is just as relevant today. The MyPocketSkill team in the past has authored a piece of research, commissioned by The Money Advice Service, to look at the evidence base behind financial capability-building programmes for young people and to drill down into what's effective. We have distilled this work into key themes - some of the highlights are: - Earning pocket money is much more powerful from an educational perspective than just receiving it - Learning-by-doing can generate great results - so go out there and start practising (not just the spending bit...)- Learning is much greater at an important moment, when it is relevant - rather than just from a theoretical perspective.  All transitions are important moments, like leaving school to go to uni or to start a new job-Financial education is too important to be left solely to teachers; parents are the most important role models to children and young people when it comes to financial behaviours- It's not just about the accumulation of knowledge about financial products and services - a major part of financial capability development is around the cognitive factors (and organisational skills) that influence things like prioritising tasks, setting goals and controlling impulses. Read more from this report here.We can carry forward these lessons in 2020 to formulate our priorities when it comes to equipping young people with the vital skills they need to secure their futures. Importantly, the next generation platform that we are soon to launch will do both - help to earn and build financial capabilities of Gen Z. It could not come at a more important time.


COVID-19: How are teenagers coping? With inspiration and innovation..

April 28, 2020

It’s been a remarkable few months so far, to say the least. It seems there is a question mark hanging over a lot of aspects of everyone’s lives at the moment, and this feeling has become almost familiar. For students who were in the thick of exam preparation at the beginning of lockdown, things have been feeling even stranger. Normally, students would have been in the midst of exam crunch time, a last push in what has been the culmination of many years’ hard work. Instead, Sixth Formers have had to adapt to the idea that exams have been cancelled, there has been no end-of-year celebrations, and no mountain of work to do that had for so long been at the centre of their weekdays and weekends.At MyPocketSkill, we spend a lot of time trying to understand the experiences and challenges of young people in the world today. This situation due to COVID-19 is no different. From the offset we’ve been talking to Sixth Formers, GCSE students and other teenagers across the UK to try and understand how they’re feeling at this time and what they are doing now that they have unexpected stretches of free time. Unsurprisingly, a lack of structure and motivation has been a common theme in our discussions with teenagers over the past month. There’s a mixture of relief and positivity at the cancellation of exams, coupled with a sense of deprivation of the rite of passage that A Levels so often are for students across the UK.That being said, the conversations we’ve had have been nothing short of inspiring.From university prep courses in psychology, to picking up some conversational Spanish, to not only maintaining skills but taking this time to improve skills in dancing and guitar - it’s been a happy surprise to hear about how proactive Sixth Formers are while we all try and navigate our new routines.Don’t get us wrong - we are not trying to suggest that major productivity is the be-all and end-all at this time. It’s equally as important to take time to relax, be mindful that each day will bring new positives and negatives and that it won’t be possible to achieve everything you’ve wanted. However the enthusiasm and innovation of those who we’ve spoken to was striking enough to lead us to launch our £5 for 45 campaign where capable A Level and GCSE teens offer sessions in everything from Spanish to violin to art and dance lessons via video call to families with younger children who are trying to strike a good balance between working from home and home-schooling.We’ve been delighted with the reaction to our campaign so far, it’s been encouraging to see the positive impact our teens are having on the daily lives of younger children, as well as the impact of getting involved in our programme has had on their own routines and structure. The resilience and proactive nature of these teens has been fantastic to watch.Their ability to find positives during this adverse time is a lesson that we can all bring forward into our daily routines." Register for free on our website to get full access to the wide variety of listings available as part of our £5 for 45 campaign now!Ciara Cremin is a Youth Policy Analyst at MyPocketSkill


So, do you want your kids to make a difference?

March 21, 2019

As a generation of parents, we need to admit that we took our eyes of the ball - from climate change, to Trump, to Brexit - we have allowed these things to happen to us and our children.  We can construct a complex analysis as to why; the truth is there are many reasons.  But perhaps one reason is that as families, we were more comfortable discussing house prices than talking politics round the dinner table. Indeed, even now political posts in local Facebook parents' sites are regarded as in bad taste - "not Brexit again!” Much safer to discuss (to death) hair salons for children and skiing holidays.  And maybe that would be fine, if it were not for the issues the world faces. So what can we do differently? We all have great hopes for the young generation, in particularly in the view of recent #StrikeForClimate events. Inspired by Greta Thunberg, the Swedish 16-year old, recently nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, starting a powerful global movement for politicians to act on climate change, 1 million worldwide took to the streets. It is suddenly ok for teens to strike. Children from tens of thousands of schools in the UK joined the protests in March and momentum is building. It is immensely promising how much has been achieved in a short time by the collective will and organisation of young people, acting on issues that they care about and don't trust the older generation to fix. So the solution is that we need more Greta Thunbergs. And this is where we all come in. While also guilty of mundane dinner party conversations, as a parent I always held strong beliefs that young people should participate. Not just for the sake of a badge or a Duke of a Edinburgh Award, but every day and generally.  Whenever we went to vote, my now 12 year-old son tagged along too. My regret is that my voting research was superficial - I did not spend time researching the MPs we voted for and decisions were mostly based on party politics, hence not everything could be articulated well enough when he asked questions. But even that small step of engaging in voting (and demonstrations) hopefully means that my son will understand the importance and relevance of voting and appreciate that it is his important democratic right when he grows up. It also means that he and even his seven-year-old sister are interested in politics. My hope is they retain that. Of course, with hot debates around Brexit and climate change unleashed, increasing numbers of young people feel more politically engaged now.  Two years ago, eye-brows may have been raised when I told friends that my children were coming on a march, with comments such as ‘do they really understand why they are marching?’  But now, more and more of our friends do the same. Whilst I know parents who stopped their kids going to the first UK climate strike, on the advice of their schools,  many of them then allowed their young activists to go along for the second one as the movement snowballed. And here lies the answer. So, if we want these young people to make a difference, to clear up the mess we created - from politics to environment - then we have a big role to play. We should encourage them to get involved and not only for UCAS points. As parents we have to be comfortable to debate politics and not view it as a taboo subject, we should stop sanitising their environment and encourage them to be engaged and active in inspiring changes in our political and environmental landscape. So in the spirit of this (and because I won't have it any other way), you can be certain, my two will be marching this Saturday, so we all can have our final say. Zara Ransley is a parent of two and co-founder of MyPocketSkill


How do you nurture financial capability in children and young people?

Sept. 18, 2018

​It's a question worth asking. Many financial habits and attitudes to money develop at an early age but, as recently highlighted by the UK's Financial Capability Strategy, too few children and young people are fully equipped with the mindset and skills needed to navigate the adult world of financial responsibility.The MyPocketSkill team is proud to have led a piece of work, commissioned by the Money Advice Service, to look at the evidence base behind capability-building programmes and to drill down into what's effective. We have distilled this work into some key themes - some of the highlights are:Start young! There's some good evidence to support setting the right behaviours at an early age sets great foundationsLearning-by-doing can generate great results. Forget stuffy classrooms - go out there and start practising (not just the spending bit...)Do it at an important moment, when its relevant - rather than just from a theoretical perspectiveIt's too important to be left to teachers - and in any case, parents are the most important role model to children and young people when it comes to financial behavioursAlso it's not just about the accumulation of knowledge about financial products and services - a major part of financial capability development is around the cognitive factors that influence things like prioritising tasks, setting goals and controlling impulses).Overall our work highlights the importance of developing financial capabilities and, by developing an understanding of what works, we've built an important bridge for policy-makers, schools, families and young people.See our full report here.


Inspirational teens series: Phoebe Shergold-Willis

Feb. 23, 2020

In this week’s guest ‘Inspiring teens’ blog we feature Phoebe Shergold-Willis. Phoebe is Director and Founder of St Albans School of Acting (SASA) which she started when she was 19. This is Phoebe’s story.I was born and brought up in East London and I moved to St Albans six years ago; I have been performing and involved in theatre arts since the young age of four and then I really found my passion for drama and directing at my secondary school. But when it came to doing A-Levels, I really struggled and found the whole two-years extremely stressful and would panic at the prospect of exams and revision. Ultimately, I didn’t feel that University was right for me, despite being told by many people that ‘University is the only way.’ So, I decided to take a gap year.Wanting to evolve my acting and directing skills, during my gap year, in September 2015, I couldn’t find any suitable acting groups in St Albans. After further research, I realised there was a gap in the market, which is why I decided to set up SASA. I wanted SASA to be about me sharing my knowledge of the GCSE and A Level curriculum alongside my passion for the theatre arts and the creative process. SASA has given me the platform to help teenagers become the best actors and actresses that they can be through a wide range of drama exercises ranging from Frantic Assembly inspired physical theatre pieces, to monologues and emotion memory. Recently I’ve set up a Private Sessions section of the company. These sessions will be taught by me to teens, who need help with monologues, duologues, group pieces, school presentations either for GCSE’s A-Level’s, College, Sixth Forms, BTEC’s and auditions. This could also apply to monologues for auditions for scholarships, shows, schools and more. The overall aim is to help improve confidence and with potential to boost grades. At the moment I’m really pushing this section of my company, as I feel I can give invaluable advice and help to teens who need it.It hasn’t always been a smooth journey for me, I’ve had to deal with my parents splitting up, issues of my own with Anxiety and mild OCD, as well as my dad battling with mental health problems. But acting has really helped me to get through the struggles of the situation. I believe my mum and my nana have played a big part in my building my entrepreneurial spirit. They both have always been extremely hard working, committed, supportive and inspiring to me. My Nana is a particular inspiration, even now at 81 years of age, she still teaches three keep-fit classes a week, and has amassed awards for her choreography and group work. They are both strong women, which I think we need more of in today’s world. They will never stop inspiring me to strive to be a better person.A year on, and I’m aiming to expand the company even more, I’m also studying and nearly at the end of my First Year in Theatre Arts and Directing at Middlesex University and loving every minute of it.So, what’s next for SASA? In September 2017, I’m aiming to put on a second St Albans class, a class in Hendon and a class in Abingdon too. I’m hoping to do this all by myself but don’t want it to interfere too heavily in my studies. I also want to expand the company and thus my skills by going into schools and doing inspirational talks, Q & A sessions and presentations about my life and how I got to start my business and to talk about further education after Secondary School and how University isn’t the only route. I’m really excited about future plans with St Albans School of Acting as I feel that there is so much to do out there in supporting and inspiring young people. We live in a world today where we need to support, nurture and help young people become our world leaders of tomorrow.If you are an inspirational teen and have a story to tell or know someone who would like to be featured in our series, then please email us we'd love to hear from you.


Pocket money revolution: how can teens earn pocket money

Oct. 21, 2016

In a world seemingly full of encouragement for young people to make their entrepreneurial mark, it seems that there are still surprisingly few ways for today’s teenagers to earn pocket money. And opportunities that are out there are not plentiful or flexible enough. So, while as they approach adulthood, teens’ spending needs become significant (from volunteering trips to Thailand to buying electronic gadgets, some of which are necessary for their school work), as we found out, most are still being funded by relatively modest allowances from 'Mum & Dad’ plc.Part of the reason for the absence of teens in the paid labour market is a belief that the legal restrictions are onerous and some of them are. However, a recent article in the Huffington Post discusses ways teens can show entrepreneurial initiative, without breaching UK laws. It demonstrates that while there are some restrictions on hours and conditions for teens, there are ways that this can be done.The key takeaways from the article are that paid work is generally legal from the age of 13, as long as it doesn’t occur during school hours or before 7am and after 7pm. Other restrictions are on the number of hours teenagers can work during both term and holiday time (generally maximum of 12 hours during the week and 25 hours during the holidays for under 15's), and some environments are not deemed suitable for under 18s, such as alcohol or gambling outlets. In some cases, depending on age and situation, employers may have to get a working permit to be able to hire anyone under 16s. Citizen's Advice Bureau is a good source of information to get your head round all the dos and don’ts.While it may not be easy to find paid work, everyone agrees that generally (and if sensibly done) it is a good thing. As stated in government current guidance on the employment of children, part-time work ‘can develop self-confidence, communication and organizational skills, familiarity with money and dealing with other people’.In our next article we will talk more about why we, at MyPocketSkill, think it is high time teens claimed their place in the flexible work market not just for the sake of earning money but much more in order to develop essential life skills. That's why our mission is to make it a simple and enjoyable process for young people as well as prospective employers.


Debate: Will a lie-in help to improve my teenager's grades?

Feb. 17, 2017

It sounds like a dream combination – enjoy an hour’s lie-in, start school at 9.25 rather than 8.25 and then do better at your exams. What’s not to like? But this is not purely the product of a teenager's optimistic daydream, it’s a consultation that the Head at one of Brighton’s largest secondary schools is proposing, with a decision being made over the next few months and a possible start in 2018.So, to find out whether there’s any real substance behind this suggestion, we’ve had a look at the some of the background facts and research.At the heart of all these proposed changes is some interesting science about teenagers’ sleeping patterns. There is now plenty of evidence to suggest that teenagers’ internal body clocks shift by a couple of hours once puberty begins. So suddenly going to sleep at something like 10 or 11 pm feels much more natural than 8 or 9pm. In addition, there is a relatively common medical disorder, affecting perhaps as many as 15% of teens, called Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome, where natural sleep rhythms are delayed, teens end up falling asleep well after midnight and then have great difficulty getting up in time for school.Great news for teenagers then – this means that you now have a valid excuse for being labelled a night owl and missing the start of double-Chemistry. But of course, when a teenager needs 9-10 hours sleep a night, it’s then not a great fit with waking-up bright and early to start school at say 8.30 – so no wonder then that as an early-rising teen you might find yourself struggling to stay alert during those morning lessons.But is starting the school day later really the answer? In the United States the prestigious American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recommended that teenagers are best suited to wake at 8:00 am or later. Many US schools have now shifted their start times, and some are beginning to see positive results. The Glens Falls High School in New York for example, says that as well as teenagers having more sleep, it has seen reductions in lateness and absenteeism and also a reduction in the number of students failing classes. And what about larger, more systematic studies? In Canada there was a recent study involving almost 30,000 students. It found that students starting school later in the morning slept longer and were less likely to be tired than those students from schools that started early. Since insufficient sleep has often been associated with poorer school results, school attendance and other risks such as road accidents, it does seem good sense to look at those start times.However, before we all start setting our alarm clocks an hour later, we do need to be careful at any conclusions we draw from some of this research. Much of the international evidence, including the New York school example above as well as other recent studies in the US and in Hong Kong, features schools which originally had much earlier start times than most UK schools and some of the changes in start times were really quite small - for example, delaying the start by just 15 minutes. So, although many studies have seen positive improvements, it’s not quite as easy to directly compare this research to what's being proposed in the Brighton consultation (although we can relatively safely conclude that it would be a really bad idea to move to an earlier start time!). There is some evidence of improved results from a school in the UK which did try to push back hours from 8:50 until 10:00, so it's not completely untested, but it's relatively early days in looking at this systematically and it's perhaps interesting that this particular school's results have continued to improve even though their hours have since reverted back to an earlier start time.Also worth considering is what are the other things that teens and parents/carers should be doing to help to reduce this sleep deficit. Schools might want to consider, for instance, whether a programme of sleep education could be just as effective as changing the school start time. At the moment there doesn’t appear to be quite enough research in this area to say what changes would get the best results, although in the UK, ongoing projects such as the Teensleep Study at the University of Oxford are trying to answer some of these questions.So, should we be trying this in Brighton or elsewhere? Well, taking into account what we know so far, we cannot say for certain what the effects will be, but there may be some merit in piloting a change to see if the benefits really do stack up. It might also be worth considering that a more modest change to start times might still have some benefit, without needing to delay starts by as much as a whole hour, and finally there may be other complementary actions such as a programme of sleep education, which could be considered instead or alongside any timetable changes.Teenagers in Brighton will be eagerly awaiting the outcomes of this consultation and in many cases relishing the prospect of later school starts and a longer lie-in. And if the results stack-up for this Brighton school then schools elsewhere in the UK will doubtless follow. But meanwhile for those struggling to stay awake during those early lessons, here’s a few useful tips summarised from advice from the Sleep Council for improving your sleep.Restful Environment. Make sure the mattress is comfortable. Declutter those gadgets from the bedroom and, in particular, avoid using 'blue screen' technology including smart phones and laptops near bedtime as they disrupt sleep patterns. Consider light and temperature (cool and dark is the way to go) and remove electronic devices before bed.Routine. Establish a regular sleeping schedule of going to bed/waking up at the same time (and stick to it!) Big meals, Coffee, tea, fizzy drinks or energy drinks should be avoided well before bedtime.Relaxation. Begin to wind-down in the hour before bed. Don’t go to bed until you are actually ready for sleep, and in the hour before bedtime, start relaxing and winding down.Matthew Harker, February 2017Matthew is Cofounder at MyPocketSkill


From tasks to start-ups … how young entrepreneurs really start...

Oct. 13, 2020

I have been running MyPocketSkill, the start-up focused on connecting young people, aged 13-19, with paid and volunteering opportunities, for the last 9 months. Our aim is to tool-up teens with real-life skills. Then there is a host of other potential benefits, including helping with the career-discovering journey and enabling them to make connections with people outside of their immediate social circle. The latter in particularly is identified by The Careers and Enterprise Company as enhancing employment prospects. Young people should also be able to earn more per hour than in traditional, less flexible jobs, like shelf-stacking. And money is a great motivator.What I find really rewarding though is coming across stories of how doing simple tasks like babysitting, lawn-mowing or a paper round can lead to much more and is sometimes instrumental in creating young entrepreneurs.The Financial Times recently ran a series of articles, including 'The teenage summer jobs that shaped leaders' describing this particular journey. Amongst entrepreneurs who credit the ignition of their entrepreneurial spark to simple tasks they did as teenagers, are Kristo Käärmann (CEO and co-founder of TransferWise, a £bn London-based fintech company), Whitney Wolfe (founder and CEO of Bumble, a dating app, where women approach men) and Biz Stone (founder of Twitter), who has a great story of how he met his life-long mentor when mowing his lawn. On a much smaller scale, we see the same with MyPocketSkill. Take Sam Wick, a young entrepreneur, who is on our platform and started a fashion business, Lemons and Limes, when he was 15. He initially did the paper round to earn some cash. That simple task gave him more confidence and importantly some start-up capital. He re-invested his proceeds into trading limited-edition fashion items such as trainers and t-shirts. Now aged 16, he is turning over 10s of thousands of pounds, partly trading, partly designing and selling combat trousers at £65 per pop and t-shirts, picturing lemons and limes, alongside studying for his A-levels. In his own words, whilst most of his peer group are just 'happy if someone buys them beer', he thinks big. Chatting to him, I observe how agile his mind is and how absolutely into everything he is. Indeed his plans now are grandiose but even he admits that it was not always the case and that it was the paper round that made him. But ultimately I notice how adept he is at problem-solving. Are entrepreneurs made or born?My experience of delivering programmes for Young Enterprise also supports the theory that small jobs can be a stepping stone into creating a more entrepreneurial mindset. I would walk into the classroom and observe that in a typical group of young people, despite them self-selecting to take part, inevitably half would mess-about, while others would be very quiet. Then there would be one young person, brimming with ideas, who seemed to know exactly how to get things done: where to print that leaflet, which social media tool works best.Typically, when you chat to them there is always a commonality. Either they had an exposure to a family business or a neighbour’s business where they helped out; or their parents were really good at saying ‘Come on - let us go and sell that lemonade, wash that car’, encouraging them to do little jobs and earn pocket money. There is actually a whole bunch of scientific research that supports this. Check out research on ‘What makes entrepreneurs entrepreneurial’ by professor of entrepreneurship in university of Virginia, Savas Sarasvathy, and Nobel Laurete, Herbert Simon.As a parent, I also see that every day - my son, aged 10, is acutely interested in what I am up to with MyPocketSkill. He already has done his first task, collecting leaves from a bay-tree to sell to the herb stall at the local market (my husband and I may have helped a bit). But as I see him being curious and wanting to miss Wednesday at school (his favourite day of sport matches) to come to a focus group that we are running, I wonder if the seeds of a future entrepreneur are being sewn. And if this exposure to my own start-up journey and doing little tasks in the neighbourhood, would help him to create and run his future business empire.Zara Ransley is a co-founder of MyPocketSkill, a digital start-up in the making, which connects young people, aged 13-19, with paid and volunteering opportunities, and which has a big ambition of being a platform for young entrepreneurs, supported by real-life entrepreneurs.


Skills Development 1: What practical steps can I take to improve my chances of securing a place at a medical school

March 7, 2020

As the statistics would have it, in 2015 there were 82,034 applicants for 7,424 places to study medicine in the UK with some schools reporting as many as 1000 applicants for 50 places. Those odds look daunting. Whilst getting high grades and demonstrating academic aptitude is a prerequisite (the expectation is at least three As -chemistry, biology and either math or physics would keep most Med Schools open to you), in this blog we focus less on the academic requirements and more on what else a young person can do to improve their chances of getting into Medical School.According to the industry professionals we spoke to, the key is to demonstrate a breadth of interests, deeper understanding of what is involved in working in medicine as well as the ability to empathise. So start by getting some hands on experience. Many hospitals and medical schools have developed programmes that help perspective students to get a better flavour of what it is like to work in medicine. For example, UCL runs a mentoring scheme that matches teams of volunteer UCL medical students with sixth-form students from London and Hertfordshire- based non-selective state schools, who want to study medicine . It also runs a Summer School for Year 11 students Applications are currently open for the latter until 9am on 10th of April.Some hospitals provide work experience - an unpaid, short-term placement - normally for a few weeks. An example is Royal Free, which while does not offer structured centralised placements, allows clinicians and senior staff to support a few placements per year. Another example is Brighton and Sussex University Hospital - which has more of a centralised application process.Other routes to demonstrating interest and experience is to volunteer. At MyPocketSkill, for example, we currently have a listing to volunteer with St Francis Hospice and another to work as coaches with children with learning disabilities for Special Olympics. Nursing homes is also a good option.Overall, it is important to understand that medical schools won’t expect a lot of hospital work experience, as the sixth-formers are under 18 years of age and it is difficult to gain meaningful employment. However, ability to reflect on what has been learned through placements is important.We thank Dr Rachel Jones of West Middlesex Hospital for her help and contribution to this blog. Note: We will be updating this blog with more contacts and volunteer listings.