Joint APPG looking at the youth unemployment crisis

The APPG for Youth Employment and APPG for Skills and Employment joined forces to hold a joint virtual meeting on the issue of youth employment. The APPG was attended by Seema Malhotra MP, Shadow Minister for Employment, Cllr Bob Sleigh OBE, Deputy Mayor, West Midlands Combined Authority, Cllr Sean Fielding, Cabinet Lead for Employment, Skills and Digital, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Barry Sheerman MP, James Daly MP, Lord Aberdare and many other colleagues from across government, the third sector and skills and employment sector.

The meeting invited speakers to present their thoughts, research and experience. There was a chance for a short Q&A at the end too. Ciara, a Youth Ambassador for Youth Employment UK was invited to present to the group to share her views and experiences.

“When I think about my journey to work I do not think the government or my school has provided me with the help that I needed. I had to rely on my parents, the network around me and luck. I do not think in 2020 that young people should have to rely on luck to get ahead. “

Youth Employment UK Youth Ambassador, Ciara

You can read Ciara’s presentation at the bottom of this post and find out what it felt like to present to the group. Alongside Ciara youth employment experts also gave a presentation including Chair of the Youth Employment Group Samantha Windett of Impetus.

Of the experience Ciara said:

“The APPG experience was quite nerve-wracking, but it was so rewarding! Everyone was really encouraging and always willing to hear what I had to say.”

The Youth Employment Group (YEG) was founded by Impetus, the Institute of Employment Studies, The Prince’s Trust, Youth Employment UK and Youth Futures Foundation. It was set up in response to the COVID-19 and its impact on young people’s engagement with education, employment and training. The YEG has been pivotal in providing real time commentary and in depth discussions looking for recommendations towards supporting young people. You can find out more here.

“My name is Ciara, I’m 19 and I am a Youth Ambassador for Youth Employment UK. I know I only have a couple of minutes, but I hope I can highlight some of the key areas that need to change to help get young people into quality and meaningful employment.

Whilst I was brainstorming and deciding what it was that I wanted to say in this presentation, I was obviously reflecting on my own experience of applying to jobs/starting a career. And something hit me. With everything going well, I will be starting an apprenticeship at the end of August. But what I realised was that it was only through my hard work, my support network (family, friends, Youth Employment UK) and if I’m being honest sheer fortune, that I got to where I am. The education system and the government gave me virtually no support. This is a big problem. In 2020, young people should not need to depend on luck and fortune to get to where they want to be.

I did speak to some of my friends, but since most of them are at uni, Covid is impacting them different ways than it is affecting those who are in full time employment/apprenticeships. Therefore, I think it best that I let someone who is currently at uni take the reins on that one.

However, one of the things I found in common with most of the people that I spoke to, was that most of us left school without our schools offering us any work experience. Work experience is so important as it helps young people develop their confidence and see how they could fit into a work environment. And I know that some schools/colleges do offer it, but this leads to many young people going into an already tough labour market at a disadvantage because they don’t have that experience. To try and help fix this, I think that MPs need to work with schools and colleges (taking into account their financial situations) and work out a work experience/careers programme that will work for students’ needs.

The Prince’s Trust reported back in May 2020 that 1 in 4 young people claim that their future prospects have already been damaged. This has unfortunately led to 43% of the 1022 surveyed to say that their anxiety levels have increased due to the pandemic. With young people being 2.5 times more likely to work in the industries being most affected by furloughs and redundancies (hospitality, tourism, leisure), these figures are unsurprising. One of my friends knows this first as she works in the tourism industry.

This is also reflected in the Youth Voice Census as 87% of young people were not confident that they would find quality work in their area.  The report also stated that 47% of those surveyed don’t feel in control of their lives. This is definitely something that I have experience with, because whilst I was searching for opportunities, I couldn’t help but feel that I was failing myself because whilst I was sure that I didn’t want to go to uni, I was unsure in how to go about developing my skills and how to market myself to companies and those offering apprenticeships. This is echoed in the 2020 youth voice which found that 68% of young people feel that employers are unsupportive of hiring them. This has led to young people staying on into further education because they want to delay their entrance into the labour market.”

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