On Wednesday the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Youth Employment met, with YEUK acting as the secretariat and Chris Green MP kindly hosting in place of Michael Tomlinson MP.
A look at the data
The meeting began series 2 of the Youth Employment APPG’s, which moved on the discussion from youth employment data in order to focus on the transition between education and employment. Both Chris Green MP and Laura-Jane Rawlings began the meeting by focusing on the positive steps made towards reducing youth unemployment across the country.
They highlighted that between September-November it stood at 12.7%, down 1% from the previous year, and a clear improvement on the 22.5% peak in 2011 when YEUK was formed. It is however evident, that this paints only part of the picture, with many countries; particularly those outside of Europe, achieving more in terms of reducing youth unemployment.
What more could be done?
Laura- Jane identified three key areas in which progress could be made, and more could be done to tackle unemployment and underemployment in our young people.
- Education Systems
Young people are often leaving school or college unprepared or misinformed about their employment options and pathways. Careers advice, work experience and even qualifications can be inadequate for certain individuals and their specific circumstances. Therefore more must be done to tailor development and guidance to accommodate young people’s unique situations
2.Access to local opportunities
It is clear that certain projects and systems are working, and these should be made accessible to all young people, not just those situated in the areas where things are being done right. Those in rural areas who lack transport as well as those that lack the necessary family support and connections to enter the workplace are at a clear disadvantage. This is particularly relevant to young people who live independently, a point also stressed by our partners at Talent Match.
3.Cuts in support to NEETs
Government cutbacks have reduced pre-employment support for those not in education, employment or training. It is important to look at what is working, and apply it in a flexible way to provide high quality support to young people who need help entering employment.
Series 2: Education to Employment
Four of YEUK’s Youth Ambassadors, Patrick, Nadia, Sam and Harvey also spoke at the meeting, sharing their own experiences and journeys from education to employment. In particular they highlighted flaws with careers advice and work experience within the school system. All of them suggested that only through their own proactive behaviour they gathered the necessary work experience to move towards employment. However, it is clear that schools steer young people down certain paths in order to hit targets and tick boxes as opposed to doing what is best for the individual’s ambitions and circumstances.
“Teachers told me to only focus on study and not on the extra-curricular activities…extra-curricular activities are important and have helped me develop my confidence and run my own business” Harvey
“Schools often give work experience based on what they have rather than what young people want to do….young people need guidance on how to turn their experiences in to the words employers are hoping to hear” – Patrick
“Schools are very quick to put you in a box – She’s going to uni, she’s not. It was my volunteering skills that gave me my transferable skills – Nadia”
“There are many challenges of getting work experience regionally, in my local area there are no transport links so you have to be able to drive. I have always created my own networks, volunteered and taken on extra-curricular activities which has helped me but more could be done to make travel more affordable, particularly for apprentices in rural areas” – Sam
Talent Match supported this analysis from our ambassadors and argued in favour of individual mentoring schemes to help those who need tailored career and personal support. They also stressed the importance of improving relationships between businesses and schools to help reduce the transition from education, by encouraging contact between young people and employers from an early stage.
The consensus of the APPG was that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to the issue of youth unemployment, and approaches must be tailored to suit the needs of young people. Furthermore, it is essential we look at what is already working in various parts of the country and scale it in order to make it accessible for everyone, rather than just those born in the areas where these services are available.
To find out more about YEUK’s role in the APPG for Youth Employment please click here
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