Youth Leadership and Digital Technologies TelePresence meeting: 7 June


TelePresence meeting – 7 June 2010

A partnership between The Youth of Today consortium and SIX network

On 7 June 2010, third sector leaders will meet with policy makers, creative thinkers, and practitioners working in the field of youth leadership from the UK, Korea, China, India, Sweden, Australia and Portugal via Cisco’s TelePresence technology to explore how young people can use digital technologies as tools for taking the lead and driving social innovation and discuss how institutions and organisations working with young people can better harness these tools towards this aim

The Current Climate:

A deepening recession is not a great time for young people. There are fewer and fewer job opportunities and even graduates with good degrees are struggling. Youth unemployment is rising more quickly than unemployment for any other group and is forecast to exceed 1 million in the UK during 2010. Additionally, young people are growing into adulthood within societies with a number of seemingly intractable problems looming, including an ageing society, climate change and increasing inequality.

These pressures come on top of other big trends that have weakened young people’s position. Much longer transitions to adulthood mean fewer people getting quickly to the top, unlike William Pitt who became the youngest Prime Minister in 1783 at the age of 24, this is unimaginable for young people across the globe today. And our media increasingly present young people much more often as problems than as problem solvers.

But crises are also opportunities. Young people have the chance to play a leading role in shaping the economy as it emerges out of recession. Indeed, if there is ever a time that young leadership is needed, it is when the old systems are in crisis.

Youth Leadership and Digital Technologies:

No matter which way you look at it, society has changed dramatically in the past several decades. Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), from mobile phones to the new iPad, are now an integral part of society, shaping the experiences of young people and changing the way they take part in social and political life. Today’s young people are more likely to get involved in championing a social issue by joining an online campaign than pledging allegiance to a formal political party.

Digital technologies can be powerful tools for change making, offering young people new ways to ‘get things done’. For example, newer applications such as social networking sites are places of interactivity and participation, where young people can find information as well as create, publish, share ideas and get feedback on their views through blogs, videos and chat rooms. Online communities can be important places of civic engagement, where young people can gain knowledge that will enable them to be more active, creative and influential.

However, digital technologies are not the panacea for inequality many have hoped. The ability of young people to use digital technologies to lead positive social change depends upon a range of socio-economic factors, including education. In this TelePresence discussion, we will explore how digital technologies can be used as tools for youth leadership and social innovation among young people as well as discussing how adults and institutions working with young people can better tap into such resources to help young people reach their potential.

What is Youth Leadership?

The concept of ‘youth leadership’ is difficult to pin down. Leadership literature includes a host of theories investigating leaders, their roles and essential qualities, and whether they are ‘made’ or ‘born’ – and if they are ‘made’, then how to ‘make’ them. While challenging to define, our research with practitioners, experts and young people has yielded the following definition of youth leadership:

“Young people empowered to inspire and mobilise themselves and others towards a common purpose, in response to personal and/or social issues and challenges, to effect positive change.”

About the Hosts:


The Social Innovation eXchange (SIX) is coming together with The Youth of Today to host a two hour TelePresence discussion on how digital technologies can be utilised by young people as tools for leading positive social change.

SIX is a global community of over 800 individuals and organisations – including small NGOs and global firms, public agencies and academics - committed to promoting social innovation and growing the capacity of the field has come together with its partner Euclid to host this two hour discussion.

SIX aims to improve the methods with which our societies find better solutions to challenges such as ageing, climate change, inequality and healthcare, specifically through running events, and the ongoing development of . SIX was instigated by the Young Foundation, and this is where the network’s secretariat is now based.

The Youth of Today:

The Youth of Today is a consortium of leading youth organisations working together to increase the quality, quantity and diversity of opportunities for young people as leaders of change. It is funded and supported by the Department for Children, Schools and Families and Communities and Local Government. It is managed by seven leading organisations including the British Youth Council, Changemakers, Citizenship Foundation, the National Youth Agency, Prince's Trust, UK Youth Parliament and the Young Foundation.

More about TelePresence:

Cisco TelePresence delivers a unique, "in-person" experience so you can meet people without travel, thus saving time as well as money. The TelePresence facilities at Cisco offices allow for seamless communication from various offices (with TelePresence capabilties) around the world, all connected via satellite and video-conferencing. You can communicate and collaborate more effectively any time, anywhere, with everyone.


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