Sport and education creates new career opportunities

Mark Braithwaite speaking to students at a Leadership Through Sport and Business event.

For young people in the UK, economic opportunity often depends on their schooling, social circumstance and support network. For those with potential but facing significant social hurdles, Leadership Through Sport and Business (LTSB) provides the training and support they need to kick-start their professional career.

CEO Caroline Adair has seen the program grow to service four cities and successfully work with 420 young leaders since its launch in 2012.

“We work with young people who, without us, might not have the social capital, confidence or resources to apply for jobs with major firms. We provide an alternative entry point into the workforce,” explains Caroline. “That helps them believe that they belong in top tier workplaces.”

The three ‘magic ingredients’ that contribute to the success of the program are sport, education and opportunity. “Chelsea Football Club was our first sports partner. We use sport to bond students and create opportunities for them to develop leadership skills. They referee, coach after school soccer clubs, or give back through disability programs or financial literacy programs,” she says.

Three days a week, students attend a local college to learn foundation accounting, and receive training and development to prepare for a professional apprenticeship. “Macquarie has been with us from the birth of the charity – we held our launch event at its office in Ropemaker Street,” says Caroline. “They have provided ongoing support, whether it’s providing space, developing the Women in Leadership conference with Rachel Engel (head of EMEA, Macquarie Group Foundation), or contributing to our Board.”

Mark Braithwaite, Senior Managing Director of Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets, has been on the LTSB Board since 2016. “I was keen to find a younger charity that needed more of a hands-on approach from its board members, so when Rachel suggested LTSB, I knew it was the right fit,” says Mark.

Macquarie Group won the City of London’s Accelerator Award in 2018, recognising its impact on the accelerated growth of LTSB.

“It is a highly competitive, difficult award to win,” says Caroline. “And I felt it was so deserved for Macquarie – especially Rachel and Mark – to get that recognition.”

LTSB has recently received a commitment from the Macquarie Group Foundation of £180,000 over three years, which will allow it to continue growing.

“Our goal is to get LTSB to a place where it’s completely sustainable, and this commitment from the Macquarie Foundation is a significant milestone,” says Mark. “It will enable LTSB to hire three fundraisers who can focus on partnerships and philanthropic donations.”

LTSB students typically need ongoing support, even after they’re placed in work.

“Social mobility doesn’t stop at the first job,” explains Caroline. “They still need that support, typically through their 30s. Many other social deprivation factors could impact their career trajectory, so we work to help them maintain quality employment, and think about where they can go next.”

Since launching, LTSB has also made a significant impact to the minimum wage for career starters – a necessary step for young people without financial support at home. Apprentices now start on £17,400, up from £5,000 in 2012. And other companies are starting to take notice.

“It’s very expensive to lose people and then re-hire, so employers are looking at wages differently. When apprentices are paid a decent wage, there is an incentive to stay and succeed,” says Caroline. “This is how social mobility has genuine impact. For us, it’s not just about giving people employment, it’s about giving them career opportunities so they can look after their families as well as themselves.”