Dame Kelly Holmes Trust held a breakfast roundtable at the Institute of Directors on Wednesday 26 April, which brought together leaders from a wide range of sectors to discuss the development of character, aspirations and soft skills for young people in the UK.

The policy roundtable was chaired by Charlotte Hill, Chief Executive of national youth initiative Step Up To Serve. The event’s lead contributors to discussion were Baroness Gillian Shephard, Deputy Chair at the Social Mobility Commission and Seamus Nevin, Head of Employment & Skills at the Institute of Directors.

The Trust’s Director of Programmes Ben Hilton opened up the discussion by highlighting the findings of new research commissioned by the Trust around the aspirations of young people in the UK. Ben promoted a discussion about whether we can measure attitudes such as resilience, confidence or motivation and how we can best work together collaboratively to ensure young people realise these traits and go on to lead positive lives.

The roundtable was then opened up to contributions from the floor as well as exploring next steps, led by the Trust’s CEO Emma Atkins.

Charlotte Hill, Chief Executive of Step Up to Serve said: “It was a pleasure to Chair a fascinating roundtable organised by Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, looking at the need to further embed and value character education and the development of soft skills, and improve the link between schools and employers.  It was fascinating to have perspectives from the world of work, from education leaders, the health sector, the voluntary sector and others. 

“At the #iwill campaign, we’re passionate about the role social action can play in this debate and really look forward to working with the Trust and colleagues to take this forward.”

Seamus Nevin, Head of Employment & Skills, Institute of Directors said: "For too long, the British education system has placed far too great an emphasis on examinations and qualifications at the expense of all else.

“The evidence from employers is that even those students leaving school full of facts have precious little understanding of the vital skills needed in the workplace.

“That’s why we’ve called on the government to introduce more teaching of character and resilience in schools.”

Our ambition at Dame Kelly Holmes Trust is to empower young people facing disadvantage in all areas of the UK to make positive life choices, which includes being prepared and equipped to enter employment and enjoy career success. This is achieved through a range of transformational school and community-based personal, social and emotional development programmes, led by world class athletes.

The Trust will continue to work with partners from across education, business, health and voluntary sectors to promote this issue.