04 October 2022
Over 4,000 young people over age 11 took part in Youth Employment UK’s Youth Voice Census 2022. This sought to spotlight the current challenges young people face to entering employment.
Financial pressures, personal safety, and prejudice were the the key concerns of a small sample of young Londoners in one of 6 regional focus groups. They expressed constant concern about the rising cost of living. This was impacting their mental health, leaving them unable to focus on finding employment or completing education and training courses.
They also spoke of many concerns, familiar to London Youth. These were around their personal safety and pressures into becoming involved in gang culture. They cited mistrust in the police and authorities more generally, leaving them feeling isolated and unsupported in their community. Young Londoners also feel that employers do not want to hire ‘people like them’ and local services look down on them.
The national findings also underlined the high number of hidden unemployment among young people. They also reconfirmed that certain ethnicities are more likely to experience longer-term unemployment than others:
- 45.7% of those that are Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEETs) have not accessed Universal Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance or any other benefits
- Black, Black British, Caribbean or African more likely to have been NEET for over 12 – 18 months, or longer
A mental health emergency
Unsurprisingly, the overwhelming conclusion reached by all respondents is that the single biggest obstacle to gaining employment is the escalating mental health emergency, exacerbated by the pandemic. However, while this is a universal one for young people, it is being experienced more acutely by certain groups of young people:
- 100% of non-binary respondents had the most extreme response, stating that COVID-19 impacted their mental health ‘a great deal’ compared to 50% of boys and 27.3% of girls.
- 80% of Black, Black British, Caribbean or African respondents, respondents from Other ethnic groups and respondents from Mixed or multiple ethnic groups said their mental health was impacted by COVID-19 ‘a lot’ or ‘a great deal’ – at least 30% higher than all other race and ethnic groups
The report showed clear benefits of extra curricular activities, such as those provided by youth clubs. Over 66% of the young people involved said that gaining new skills was the greatest benefit of attending a youth club. Over half of respondents also rated equally the benefits to their mental, and physical, health.
Access to youth clubs
Sadly, particular groups of young people are also missing out from access to youth clubs more than others.
- Young people with English as a second language were 11.8% less likely to have access to a youth club (28.4%).
- Young people currently in care were at least 10% less likely to have access to a youth club (29.2% compared to 45.5% care leavers and 40.1% of those with no experience of the care system).
London Youth’s Employability Network meets regularly to debate how youth workers in London can convene to support young Londoners facing these, and other obstacles to their employability. To join, please email firstname.lastname@example.org