The Local Government Association calls for more local involvement in Youth Policy

The Local Government Association has produced research focussed on giving local context to national youth education, employment and training strategy, policy and schemes. Here is a link to the full report ‘Re-thinking youth participation for the present and next generation: education to employment’.

This report builds upon the Local Government Association’s (LGA) prior research ‘Work Local’. The LGA has listened to councils across the nation that are frustrated that decisions are made by central Government which do not work for some people and places. As a result the LGA suggest a devolved skills and employment model focused on ‘re-thinking local’; using the relationships local and combined authorities have built with their partners, education and training providers and employers to increase employment, education and training participation whilst supporting the nations economic recovery.  

The report points out that attempts to achieve higher participation in education, employment and training were not working well prior to Covid-19 and has only been exacerbated by the subsequent lockdown measures -there are now an estimated 765,000 young people aged between 16 and 24 who were not in employment, education or training (NEET), with a further 800,000 young people having left education last month. 

The LGA predict it will be some time before official statistics reflect the impact of Covid-19 on the labour market and young people but suggest young people (particularly 18-24) are facing the worst jobs crisis in a generation. The report outlines the challenges of the system, alongside the key recommendations for reducing NEET numbers and upskilling locally. 

The Challenges 

Councils are required by law to improve and monitor youth participation in education, employment and training; raising participation age, fulfilling the September Guarantee, reducing the number of NEET young people, identifying Risk of NEET Indicators (RONI) and tracking and reducing the number of post-16 unknown destinations. Despite this requirement councils have limited authority in how they coordinate local colleges, providers, employers and other partners to meet these requirements. The LGA’s previous report ‘Work Local’ describes a cluttered and complex landscape of 17 funding streams managed by eight departments or agencies, spending more than £10 billion a year. Young people are falling through the gaps. 

Alongside this, the nation is experiencing a skills shortage and LGA analysis shows a growing skills gap – by 2030, it estimates there will be a skills shortage of two and half million high-skilled people and a surplus of six million low/medium-skilled people to the jobs available post-pandemic, costing the economy an estimated £120 billion.

Councils are also concerned about the wider impact of Covid-19 and the lockdown measures on young people’s mental health and wellbeing.

The LGA calls for a reform of the current employment and skills system; devolving skills and employment powers to the local level, enabling a more successful implementation of the Plan for Jobs -taking the national level schemes and making them relevant to each local area. This model aims to create a less complex landscape, with easier access to career advice and guidance; better quality employment, skills, apprenticeships and business support for young people; and to connect young adults and employers. 

“Over the last six months, the LGA has worked with the sector and many of the leading education, employment and skills organisations across England on this agenda. Several organisations took part in discussions, including Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), National Youth Agency (NYA), Youth Future Foundation (YYF), Youth Employment UK, Edge Foundation and Impetus.”

Recommendations 

The LGA recommend Government should immediately: 

  1. Set up a Youth Employment and Skills Taskforce and appoint a Youth Minister. 
  2. Work with councils and combined authorities to localise investment in the new active labour programmes for those out of work. 
  3. Work in partnership with councils and combined authorities to plan, coordinate and deliver the Kickstart Scheme. 
  4. Grant additional powers and resources to councils and combined authorities to extend the September Guarantee offer. 
  5. Grant apprenticeship flexibilities to increase the number of young people starts and completions.
  6. Provide greater investment and incentives for employers to promote the take-up of T Levels. 
  7. Establish data sharing protocols to open-up access and share Government departments’ evidence, including granular and longitudinal data.

The LGA makes further recommendations for the Government that should be met by 2022. You can read these using the link above.

Our Thoughts

“It’s good to see the work and thinking of the LGA on the issues of youth unemployment. I am particularly pleased to see that the LGA was able to use the Youth Voice Census in their research to explore what young people want from a local perspective. We know that young people do not feel confident about the opportunities available to them and that there is also a lot of work taking place to overcome this. The disconnect can only be dealt with through good national policy and excellent local service delivery.  

Youth Employment UK has been working locally with the West Midlands Combined Authority and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and their partner networks, the opportunities they are creating for young people are really exciting.

It has also been good to see the join up with some of the leading policy influencers and the Youth Employment Group. It feels like there is a great consensus across many recommendations and we look forward to continuing to support the government in its youth employment policy development.” Laura-Jane Rawlings, CEO Youth Employment UK

For more information, please email info@youthemployment.org.uk or call 01536 513388.

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