19 July 2023
We marked Youth Employment Week earlier this month, which you can read all about in our article. As a follow up, we were delighted to attend the launch of the APPG report “Empowering Youth for the Future of Work” last week in the House of Commons.
London Youth had presented evidence to the group in support of this inquiry. We actively engaged our Youth Board, our members and their young people in focus groups as part of our submission.
We were encouraged to see that our evidence supported the recommendations that were reached by the wider group.
The six APPG Recommendations were as follows:
- Publish a Long-term National Skills strategy.
- Futureproof training and education to ensure it monitors and adjusts to developments in Artificial Intelligence and the needs of the Green Economy. To ensure young people are given opportunities to thrive.
- Review the Apprenticeship levy.
- Produce a public campaign on technical education into apprenticeships net zero, future green jobs, and the importance of STEM Skills.
- Establish a statutory duty to ensure all young people should be given work experience during secondary education (including further education colleges and academy schools) and relevant career advice.
- Invest in Youth Services to provide extracurricular activities to support young people’s development and strengthen partnership, collaboration and coordination between schools and youth providers.
- Invest in services supporting Young People’s Mental health.
We are highlighting two of the key recommendations, informed by the voices of young people we engaged with in our response:
Recommendation 6: Invest in Youth Services to provide extracurricular activities to support young people’s development and strengthen partnership, collaboration and coordination between schools and youth providers.
London Youth highlighted the importance of the non-formal education sector to build the essential skills that young people need, and which employers have stressed are often not attained in a school setting. These are skills such as team building, collaboration and raised evidence that young Black, Black African, Black British or Caribbean respondents were over 3 times more likely to say they did not feel welcome in their secondary school.
As the final report highlighted, London Youth continues to advocate that marginalised young people may often prefer to explore future ambitions outside of school with trusted adults such as youth workers.
We also emphasised the need for equity in job opportunities. Owen is one of the young people who attended from our member organisation WhizzKids. He set out, very powerfully, his experience of the inequity for disabled and neurodiverse young people with different abilities. You can hear his contribution below.
WhizzKids also asked how the charity sector, government and business could work collectively to ensure inclusivity. Youth organisations understand best the needs of the young people they serve. They should be a conduit for government and employers to create the right conditions for young people who are disabled, neurodiverse, or young carers to avail of job opportunities. This also means that employers need to follow through with appropriate adaptations in their workplaces. This would also benefit employers looking to engage effectively with young people, bringing their rich experiences and diverse perspectives, as much as for the young people themselves.
Recommendation 7: Invest in services supporting Young People’s Mental health
London Youth also emphasised the wealth of research, based on the lived experience of young people, that poor mental health is one of the greatest obstacles in accessing employment. This informed our call for the Government to grasp the need for a long-term Mental Health Strategy for young people. Disappointingly, the focus of current policy in support of this aim is now embedded in the Major Conditions Strategy.
One member of our youth board, Yucong, also attended the launch. She’d previously given evidence to London MPs, alongside other members of our Youth Board on how the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis have deepened the mental health crisis for young people. As she said powerfully at the time “No young person should be turned away because they are not sick enough”. You can read more here.
It was also evident in the report that young people who have more socio-economic advantages have access to social capital and professional networks. This automatically gives them a head start over other young people in getting work placements.
One of our members, Tooting and Mitcham Community Sports Club, were curious about how the researchers investigated how access to this social capital affected outcomes for young people, and how this was measured. They were particularly interested in trends that might emerge on cross-generational inequities, and potentially whether there was evidence of decreased social mobility. Youth workers in communities have a role in breaking this cycle, working with partners who also take a child-centred approach to their work.
We would welcome any other members who would like to join in our policy and advocacy work to join our Policy Advisory Group. Just send an email expressing interest to firstname.lastname@example.org