Emma Jones on why you should apply for Future Leaders Connect 2018

Last year I had five jobs and the 16 to 25-year olds I met in Aberdeen were not disengaged - they were working, hard. 

They were studying at college at the same time as doing minimum wage jobs and being teenagers. One 17-year-old earned minimum wage - £5.60 per hour - and was so capable he was working across the leisure and restaurant sectors. Another young lady I met worked Sundays at a café without a contract, instead being paid cash in hand.

Young people are a repeat target of negative news coverage; this at the same time as we pay for higher education, manage multiple zero-hour contracts and see our peers in America suffer the violent brunt of political decisions on the right to bear arms. 

Young people are some of the most innovative, creative and influential stakeholders invested in the future of our planet. Yet we are advised to buy less avocado toast in order to afford a mortgage. All around the world, we live the policy and political decisions of the current establishment – and that’s exactly why we’re best placed to address big issues and offer solutions through our own networks. 

When listened to, young people are key to making improvements. They are already years ahead of their political representatives in identifying issues and knowing how to make global impact. Take a look at the Forbes 30 under 30 list, or see how a Snapchat update from young mum and reality star, Kylie Jenner had a direct impact on the platform's share value.

Last year, Future Leaders Connect ran for the first time as a nine-day British Council program to nurture political and policy leadership. Fifty emerging leaders met in the UK for nine days of intensive learning and development, travelling from Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tunisia, USA, and across the UK.

We became part of a global network, learned policy skills, took part in a conference in Parliament, and visited No.10 Downing Street, Lambeth Palace and the BBC to meet and learn from experts in policy and politics, including The Elders.

For #FutureLeadersConnect in 2017 the hallmark of a future leader was being actively engaged in a chosen discipline. That's about recognising the fluidity of power, particularly how to fill spaces, take responsibility and strategically ride the tides of leadership, as opposed to trying to force through management changes. I learned that leadership is an opportunity; and it’s open to us all.

2018 is the Year of Young People in Scotland, with activities and events focussed on participation, education, health and wellbeing, equality and discrimination, enterprise and regeneration, and culture for those aged 8 to 26. 

Here in Scotland, enabling environments are being created for young people to shine. In that spirit, I encourage everyone to explore the opportunities that arise and put themselves forward. One option is to apply for Future Leaders Connect 2018. Don’t doubt yourself, apply and remember; leadership is not what it used to be. 

(Also published on www.chrystallclear.com)

Future Leaders Connect 2017 members at 10 Downing Street.