One key barrier to employment for young people is that they often don’t know what skills they need or what employers are looking for. Youth Employment UK’s Partnership Director Laura Gibbon spoke with Channel 5 news on 9th April 2019 about the issues at stake and what can be done.
Young people are almost three times more likely to be unemployed than other groups. At a time of high employment rates it is troubling to see that young people are being left behind. Channel 5 invited Youth Employment UK and an apprentice from one of our Youth Friendly Employers, Clarion Housing, to be interviewed on the challenges that many young people face moving into employment. A focus was placed on the lack of work experience and knowing what skills employers are looking for.
Youth unemployment is 3 times the national average
“Youth unemployment is three times the national average,” said Laura Gibbon, “and young people from particular backgrounds struggle even more. There’s a whole combination of factors there. There’s the confidence issue – young people really struggle to understand what skills the employers are looking for and how to develop those skills. You can call them the ‘softer skills’, the work-ready skills.”
Young people often don’t think employers want them
“Then there’s the element of work experience. What’s more, young people often don’t think employers want them – and there’s almost a language barrier, when employers put out job descriptions that are really not accessible for a lot of young people. A lot of big corporates are doing brilliant work in this space, but what about the smaller organisations that are struggling to keep up sometimes? These smaller organisations might have resource difficulties in reaching out to young people, so they need support. “
So why is there a huge gap between the national employment rate and employment for young people?
“We hear from young people time and time again that they struggle to get work experience,” explained Laura. “They understand the enormous value of it, but it’s really hard to get. There’s lots of work going on out there at the moment to improve that, but there’s a long, long way to go. Clarion’s a really brilliant example in how they support young people; it’s not just about young people needing to get the skills, it’s also about employers understanding how they should engage young people, offering really great opportunities before the employment starts.”
Young people often don’t know what skills they need or what it is that employers are looking for, whether it’s at the employment or work experience stage – and this is where the work of Youth Employment UK really comes into play.
We provide young people with essential free training on key skills for life and work through our Young Professional service, and through the Careers Hub we can connect young people to Youth Friendly Employers who are really committed to supporting young people with the best quality opportunities.
We were delighted to be invited to join this feature. Our work also includes research and reports on youth employment and in May 2019 we will be launching our Youth Voice Census 2019 Report which will provide further insight into the needs and barriers of young people today as they transition between education and employment.