Gaining confidence may be more important than gaining qualifications when it comes to a successful career, Justine Roberts the founder of Mumsnet told WeAreTheCity recently.

Justine Roberts is a Sky Academy ambassador and she recently took part in the Sky Academy Starting Out initiative which offers young people experience and employment opportunities to prepare them for the world of work.Justine Roberts

Sky Academy consists of five initiatives that use TV, creativity and sport to support young people in unlocking their potential.  The initiatives are – Sky Sports Living for Sport; Sky Academy Skills Studios; Sky Academy Careers Lab; Sky Academy Starting Out and Sky Academy Scholarships.

Sky Academy launched in November 2013 and has since helped over 250,000 young people across the UK and Ireland.

Sky Academy ran Confidence Month through October to highlight the importance of confidence in young people’s development. The campaign focuses on building practical skills, experience and confidence through unlocking the potential of one million young people by 2020.

The Sky Academy Confidence Month is supported by a host of ambassadors including David Beckham, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Davina McCall, Alfie Deyes, Ella Eyre, Justine Roberts, Melvyn Bragg and Thierry Henry.

Robert’s idea for Mumsnet was to create a website where parents could swap advice about all the things parents talk about.

Speaking to WeAreTheCity recently Roberts said: “I wanted an environment where you can work from home and not be judged for “wussing out.” An environment where you don’t have to pretend that your family isn’t the most important thing in your life. Work is usually a close second to family and that’s the case for most people.”

“As parents on Mumsnet we’re aware of confidence and that it is so important – it’s probably more important than qualifications. So, I was happy to get involved with Sky’s Academy with my Mumsnet hat on.”

Roberts shared her own career journey with the young people taking part in the Sky Academy Starting Out programme, discussing the role of confidence in the workplace and the importance of women working in technology. She said: “In the tech space there is a strong stereotype of geeky males, working in a basement, and this needs rebranding. Tech needs rebranding as a sector.”

She also spoke to the young people about their experiences as part of Sky’s graduate programmes, apprentice schemes and work experience placements. Sky offers accredited, permanent positions for school and university leavers on one to three year paid graduate programmes and apprenticeships.

Women are nervous about being confident, as they think they’ll be seen as being too assertive or brash

Roberts said: “I’ve spent the day with young people discussing how they want to develop in their careers. Skills bring confidence and confidence is key.

“Women are nervous about being confident, as they think they’ll be seen as being too assertive or brash. Whereas men don’t tend to have that. There is an unconscious biasness towards how we judge others.”

Sky Academy recently conducted research in partnership with YouGov of over 1,600 respondents to find that young people are turning to social media for confidence. The research found that over a third (32%) of all social media users aged 11 to 24 claim they are more confident on social media than in person. This figure rises to 47% for those who say they are not confident in themselves.

89% of girls were found to use social media compared to 82% of boys. Of these, 36% of girls said they are more confident on social media than in person, compared to 28% of boys. 63% of girls admitted they are more likely to upload photos on social media compared to 41% of boys. 66% of girls said their confidence is influenced by how attractive they feel.

However, 21% of social media users aged 11-13 claimed other people have written mean or negative things to or about them on social media. Furthermore, 14% of children said the number of friends they have on social media affects their confidence.

Overall, 33% of all young people questioned said they are ‘not confident’ in themselves.

Lucy Carver from Sky Academy said: “Confidence plays a crucial role in helping young people succeed and unlock their potential, and it’s really important that young people feel confident, both in person, and on social media.

“Having worked with over a quarter of a million eight to 24 year olds so far, we know that by providing real experiences, Sky Academy builds skills which ultimately build confidence.  It’s our aim to help one million young people by 2020.”