5 Government actions required to protect youth employment in the face of coronavirus

As coronavirus changes the jobs landscape, young people are one of the groups suffering the most. We also know that young people will be affected even when lock-down is lifted. Youth Employment UK presents five key asks to the government to ensure young people don’t suffer in the long-term.

On 1st April 2020, an academic survey provided evidence that young people (along with workers on a low income) were being hit hardest in terms of employment due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It was reassuring to see the government increase its support package for businesses and we urge Ministers to ring-fence some of the funding allocation to supporting young people and youth employment.

We propose that the Government needs to fulfil the following five actions in order to protect young people and the employers hiring them in light of the coronavirus crisis.

This Government must ensure UK businesses can thrive post COVID-19

  • Ensure businesses have the support and encouragement they need to continue with their 2020 recruitment and training plans
  • Promote and recognise the innovative and good practice that is being shown by the employment community, provide support to smaller businesses on how they can work creatively during this period

This Government must protect young people currently studying on apprenticeships

  • Existing apprentices may be coming up to the end of their programmes and may never now reach their planned assessments. These apprentices should be allowed to continue on their programme with training providers or other organisations maintaining support until the assessment can be rearranged or an online assessment can be created.
  • For new apprentices the government should introduce an enhanced incentive payment to encourage employers to take on young people into apprenticeships. The current incentive of £1k for employers and providers should be increased to £3k for a period up to December 2020 at least. Increased incentives and payments should also be made to young people who need additional support as a result of disability, dyslexia etc
  • Apprenticeship programmes called frameworks were due to be replaced by new Standards by July 2020. This date should be delayed until December 2020 at the earliest.
  • Provide financial support to independent training providers to ensure they can retain a workforce to support young trainees and apprentices.

This Government must protect young people furthest from the labour market

  • Many young people that have left school without qualifications need full time or part time Traineeships and Study Programmes. These programmes allow for distance learning but the rules should be made more flexible to encourage online recruitment and delivery. In some instances the need to organise work experience should be more flexible so that this can be delivered at the end of the programme or can be simulated through work projects.
  • Ensuring additional support is there for vital Youth and Employment Services to continue to support and if necessary scale their work with young unemployed people at this time.

This Government must protect young people in volatile work

  • Expand Universal Credit or SSP to 16 & 17 year olds who may also be at risk, on zero hour contracts etc. Young people in vulnerable brackets will be feeling the loss of wages most acutely.
  • Create clear resources for this age group and signposting to organisations who can help them.

This Government must protect young people still in education

  • For many access to education is also the only access they have to food and a safe space. Consideration must be in place for these young people if the schools are to close.
  • Make swift decisions about those young people about to take exams and what this current challenges may mean for them – communicating honestly and fairly with young people

Young people will not be free of COVID-19’s economic impacts. We know that young people are already being affected by the slowdown of key industries such as retail and tourism, but there is a very real fear that employers will put on the breaks of recruitment and postpone plans for supporting young people through work experience, traineeships and apprenticeships impacting work placements.

If we do not protect recruitment, training and skills plans we will create long term problems. Young people are currently three times more likely to be unemployed than other age groups and there is too great a risk that we send youth unemployment rates rocketing, along with allowing the progress that was being made around tackling skills gaps in key sectors to plummet.

There is ,of course, an in-work challenge for some young people who are in the middle or near the end of their training – or who are on zero hours and temporary contracts. Some of these young people will not be entitled to benefits or have the support around them to claim the help being made available. The employment market will become very difficult for everyone, so that means we have to ensure the most vulnerable are supported as much as we can.

LJ Rawlings seminar

Laura-Jane Rawlings, CEO Youth Employment UK

Youth Employment UK is taking action.

Youth Employment UK are working with businesses and providers to help them support current young employees. We are similarly ready to support employers with their plans for future engagement and recruitment. By keeping communication channels open we can all ideally accelerate activity once the worst is over. Young people are turning to our free skills and careers resources in their thousands, helping us to actively bring young people and employers together during this time.

Supporting Employers

  • During the next 3 months we will reduce our membership and employer profile fees by 20% so that employers can benefit from our help in developing their youth employment strategies, future recruitment programmes and also maintain brand contact with young people.
  • We are providing regular Coronavirus support and advice for employers which includes practical advice on issues such as working from home, online meetings, supporting young employees’ wellbeing and more.
  • We structure skills-based activities and challenges for young people to complete each week as part of our Young Professional Programme so that they can accelerate their skills development remotely.
  • We support with additional bespoke advice and support during this time to meet individual employer needs and concerns.

Supporting Educators

  • Our free skills and careers workbook for young people aged 14-24 is filled with activities and challenges that can be completed remotely with little supervision.
  • We showcase skill based activities and challenges for young people to complete each week as part of our Young Professional Programme.
  • We are offering additional bespoke advice and support during this time.

Supporting Young People

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

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