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Report urges employers to back school-to-work agenda as 1 in 3 young people struggle to find a job

A third of young people aged 16 to 21 in the UK are not confident about finding a job in the next few years and lack information about local job opportunities, according to a new study.


Report urges employers to back school-to-work agenda as 1 in 3 young people struggle to find a job

The report published by the Chartered Management Institute and EY Foundation based on a survey of 1,510 16 to 21 year olds, found that a lack of connections, a steady decline in school secured work experience, low self-confidence and an apparent lack of visibility of local employers, all had the potential to impact on young people’s working prospects in the UK.

In addition, young people from lower-socio economic groups were considerably more likely to say that they did not think that they could get a job locally, compared their peers in higher social groups.

The CMI and the EY Foundation are calling on employers and schools to back a school-to-work agenda as part of the national curriculum to give young people fairer access to workplace opportunities and to improve their employability on leaving school.

The focus would be a new syllabus providing every young person in the UK aged 11 to 18 with the right support to ensure they have the best working prospects. Without this intervention, the report suggests that young people’s futures are being put at risk as demand for a high-skilled labour force is set to grow over the next three to five years.

More than one in two young people said that they thought it was difficult to get the experience they needed to get a job they wanted. CMI suggests this could be linked to the fact that work experience is no longer compulsory in school and fewer students now receive it. Just 51% of 16 to 18 year olds polled said their school offered work experience, compared to 64% of those now 19 to 21. In addition, nine in 10 of the young people surveyed said that employers should offer young people more experience of work.

The study also found that 40% of 16 to 21 year olds aspired to become the boss of a company, 63% said they would like to lead a team, while 37% would like to start their own business.

However, many young people lacked confidence in their leadership and management skills. Only one in four said they were “very good” at communicating what they thought or taking initiative. Just one in six said they were very good at talking in front of a group of people or getting people to work together.

Young people said they understood that employers were looking for practical skills, rather than just qualifications. A majority said organisational skills and communication skills were important for employers, with just 35% citing exam results as being important.

The report’s recommendations include embedding the soft skills that employers seek by including accredited practical management skills in the national curriculum for 11 to 18 year olds.

Ann Francke, chief executive of CMI, said: "Young people aspire to become leaders but it’s currently luck of the draw whether they get the necessary chances to learn how. We need employers and educators to help the next generations to develop practical skills from a younger age. This includes making management and leadership skills part of the school curriculum so that employers can recognise their capabilities."

One of the key recommendations in the report was to create a national school-to-work youth panel to give young people a strong voice to talk with employers, schools, colleges and government about their needs and concerns around job opportunities and access to career pathways.

Learn about the latest thinking in employee engagement by attending The Retail Bulletin's Retail HR Summit on 5 October.


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