10 July 2023
“Opportunity for all” was the theme of this year’s Youth Employment Week 2023. The week was a celebration of all things youth employment for those aged 11-30. It was also a stark reminder of persistent barriers for so many young people – and the inequalities that ensue.
Barriers to youth employment
At London Youth, we have been consulting with our members and our Youth Board on barriers to employment. We responded to an APPG for Youth Affairs inquiry earlier in the summer, on the basis of our focus groups. Our Director of Engagement gave oral evidence to MPs, reflecting their views:
- Young people want earlier insights and access to careers information and role models that look like them.
- Many young people, particularly marginalised groups, don’t feel welcomed at school. Therefore, the youth services offered outside of formal education settings play a critical role.
- Youth workers can support young people in having conversations about their careers and build support for them with adults that are actually engaging in providing that support.
- Cuts, Covid, Cost of Living pressures all deepening a mental health crisis in young people, which is one of the most significant barriers to entering the workforce.
- Not all young people are the same; they have different needs, outlooks and career aspirations: these are not always being met in the school environment, even where one existed for them in recent years.
The Youth Employment Toolkit
Those differences create inequalities of outcomes for young people. This is particularly acute if they are disabled or care-experienced. Such outcomes are reflected in the research underpinning The Youth Futures Foundation, Youth Employment Toolkit. This is a free online resource that presents summaries of evidence of interventions that are used to help young people who are out of work get jobs.
The Toolkit was launched at a reception at the House of Commons, with DWP youth minister, Mims Davies supporting. In her remarks the minister cited earlier research showing how ethnically diverse young people face enduring barriers in employment, research which London Youth has been a contributor. She also called out to employers to “forget about polish and look for potential” in supporting young people into jobs.
Top level evaluation information of the different kinds of interventions are summarised below:
Off-the-job training is likely to have a moderate average impact on youth employment; for every 19 young people who take part in this component of a programme, one will be employed who wouldn’t otherwise have been. Its impact on its own (i.e., outside a programme of combined interventions) may be higher, although this finding is based on fewer evaluations.
On-the-job training is likely to have a moderate average impact on youth employment; for every 17 young people who take part in this component of a programme, one will be employed who wouldn’t have been otherwise. Its impact as a ‘standalone’ intervention may be higher (although this finding is based on fewer evaluations).
Both on-the-job and off-the-job training are likely to have a high average impact on employment outcomes for young people who face additional barriers to employment, such as a disability, a history of involvement with the justice system, or having been in care.
Apprenticeships are also likely to have a positive impact on youth employment outcomes (1 in 10 leading to a job); however, this finding is based on a very small number of evaluations. Findings from other kinds of research that were not suitable for inclusion in the CNMA supports this conclusion.
Basic skills training, life skills training and mentoring or coaching are likely to have low or no impact on youth employment outcomes. However, they are associated with a range of other beneficial outcomes for young people. They are also part of combinations of interventions that are likely to have a moderate or high impact. Basic skills training combined with off the-job training is likely to have a high impact on employment outcomes, as is a combination of mentoring/coaching and life skills training.
‘The impact of place-based approaches to tackling youth employment’
The APPG for Youth Employment also launched their research during Youth Employment week. This also highlighted how place-based approaches to youth employment need to be informed directly by young people, in the communities in which they live.
There are strong recommendations put forward to Government in the report that London Youth fully endorses:
- that the Department for Work and Pensions should have an expanded brief for NEET and economically inactive young people, who are not claiming benefits. There should be funding available to Job Centres to support outreach and engagement activity. This is essential to ensure that there we do not have lost generations of young people, who are not on anyone’s radar for support, and who need it most
- the establishment of a cross-Government Youth Employment Task Force to address the one million young people currently not in full time employment or education – and to address the skills gap that underpin this
- the creation of a clear accountability framwewok for local authoirities regarding their role and responsibilities for addressing youth unemployment in their areas
London Youth continues to champion the untapped potential of young people through our programmes. We recognise that getting young people into employment is as much about gaining the skills and confidence to access work experience and face what lies ahead, as progress with education. We will continue to evidence that youth work is vital in equipping young people with essential skills that employers need.