Creating links with the community and working for its future

Cellnex expands and internationalises its programme to reduce Early School Leaving and promote youth employability

One of the essential pillars of corporate social responsibility is the link with the communities in which companies operate. Companies are nonetheless corporate citizens who can and must contribute to society in more ways than just paying tax.

At Cellnex they know this very well and are absolutely dedicated to generating a positive impact to improve basic environmental conditions, above and beyond the benefits associated with an activity as essential as telecommunications infrastructures.

Youth Challenge is a social project whose main goal is to reduce Early School Leaving and promote the employability of young people in disadvantaged environments. This year it is starting its second year with higher ambitions, both in terms of the number of people and the geographical area covered, after garnering a set of results which, although they may seem anecdotal within the overall picture, nonetheless point to a very hopeful pattern of change.

“The project aims to accompany young people from challenging social contexts in an attempt to foster their training and integration, not only by helping them find their way, but above all by offering them a direct link to the world of work. The idea is that it should be they who decide to continue studying, stimulating their desire, skills, entrepreneurial capacity and an open-mindedness that is only present in young people”, explains Ángels Ucero who has occupied various positions of responsibility in several departments of the group and will now be responsible for projects at the Foundation that will channel part of the group’s ESG (Environment, Social and Corporate Governance) strategy.

This passionate executive was one of the 66 volunteers from the company who interacted in the first edition with 58 students from the Mare de Déu de la Mercè secondary school in mentoring, training and advisory work, including personal follow-up, conferences, active learning workshops and visits to company premises to complete the experience in the telecommunications field.

“This initiative, like all those of social or environmental relevance, is a two-way street. For us it is a very enriching experience that allows us to see another reality, to interact with our community and work to promote STEM vocations and talent.”

“We are all engineer types at Cellnex, but we must use a different language to approach young people… we have gained experiences, knowledge and skills that help us improve.”

“The coaching is reaching a very powerful level of interaction – we have seen the capacity for sacrifice, adaptation and overcoming adverse situations of these young people with their values that oblige us to think out of the box that we sometimes get stuck in and help us to value what we have while reinforcing the sense of purpose and pride of belonging among our colleagues in this personally very enriching work.”

The results of the previous edition were very encouraging: “All the volunteers said they would be willing to repeat the experience and would recommend it to other classmates. 94 percent of students’ opinions were very positive, nearly 90 percent continued their studies and more than half discovered new professional avenues.”

In the light of these results, the company has decided to extend the scope of this year’s project to three other high schools, one more in Barcelona, another in Madrid and another in Rome, all of which are considered to be in a very complex socioeconomic situation in areas of the local community near our offices, to generate this feeling of proximity and provide a close and latent value. This time around, there will be more than six times the number of students and 133 Cellnex volunteers will be taking part.

The programme seeks to build bridges between training centres and the company and focuses on young people aged between 16 and 21 in vocational training and insertion plans and among students at the undergraduate and/or graduate level of higher education in the field of telecommunications.

According to data published recently by the Spanish Ministry of Education, although Early School Leaving (ESL) in Spain is in continual decline and has reached its lowest ever levels, at 17.3 percent it is still the highest in the European Union, where the average is around 10 percent, and particularly affects young people who end their studies after compulsory levels.

This statistic, which reflects populational, geographic, class and gender inequalities, hides a drama that threatens the future and equity of our system.

“Projects like this help to enhance vocational training, especially in our field –telecommunications– where, despite the foreseeable boost from the pandemic, school dropout rates range from 30 to 50 percent in the first year of Vocational Training courses.”

Cellnex intends to channel part of its ESG commitments through its new Foundation and is gaining experience in actions such as this in very specific areas that allow immediate interaction and will be very useful for its planned expansion in the territories in which it operates.

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