Employers urged to do more to stem rising tide of youth unemployment
2 Jul 2012
Generations of skills and talent risk being lost because changes in the labour market are making it increasingly difficult for young people to get a good job, a report published today warns.
The death of the Saturday job, alongside employers recruiting through word of mouth and a lack of progression opportunities means more young people than ever before are facing unemployment or under-employment.
The Youth Employment Challenge published by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, notes that although the economic turmoil of recent years has resulted in a sharp increase in the number of young people out of work, youth unemployment actually began rising in 2005. It calls on every employer in the UK to draw up their own “youth policy” – that is, to help bring more young people into the workforce.
The report notes that:
- In the last two to three years, less than a quarter (24 per cent) of employers have recruited a young person direct from education, though those that do tend to find their young recruits well prepared for work
- Where employers don’t find young recruits well prepared it is usually because they lack experience. Yet young people are less and less likely to combine work and learning. The number of full time learners (aged 16 to 17) with evening or weekend jobs has halved in the past 15 years, from four in ten in the late 1990s to two in ten now
- Employers generally find 17 and 18 year old college leavers better prepared for work than school leavers of the same age
- Word of mouth is the most common way for people to get a job. Although popular with employers, informal recruitment methods like this put young people without well-developed professional networks at a disadvantage
- Many of the jobs that young people do (in bars, restaurants and retail outlets for example) are in long-term decline, hit hard by the recession and are forecast to stagnate or decline further over the next decade
- Young people are being paid less and getting poorer quality jobs. Wages for 16 and 17 year olds fell by 13 per cent between 2010 to 2011 - from £4.70 per hour in 2010 to £4.10 in 2011. Wages for all other age groups stayed the same or increased slightly.
A guide to help employers support young people into work (“Grow your own: how young people can work for you (PDF, 291 Kb) ”) accompanies the report. It recommends a range of activities for large and small companies, including offering apprenticeships, hosting work experience, visiting schools to give talks, hosting a workplace visit, offering staff placements to update their knowledge or mentoring a young person.
Charlie Mayfield, Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership and the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, said:
“Everyone was young once and most people I meet are very concerned about the
problem of youth unemployment. But concern needs to turn into action to find ways to support young people to gain experience as a part of everyday business. Only one in four employers recruit young people from education. That simply has to change - we cannot afford to waste the skills and talents of a generation. It's something all employers, large and small, can help with, and it’s why we’re calling on every employer to have a ‘youth policy’ - that is, a conscious decision to do something for the young people in their community. Small actions can make a big difference, and things like arranging work experience placements, giving talks to young people and offering work shadowing and mentoring are just some of the ways employers can help.”
Employment minister Chris Grayling added:
“Youth unemployment is a social and economic timebomb, costing the country billions each year. The government’s Work Programme and Youth Contract wage incentive will help thousands of employers to recruit but every business can do something – from offering jobs, apprenticeships and work experience opportunities, to giving high quality feedback to unsuccessful candidates and giving talks to schools and colleges.”
Key links :
The youth employment challenge