ACCESS GENERATION CIC – WRITTEN EVIDENCE (YUN0036)
Youth Unemployment Committee inquiry
Prepared by: Afra Padmore, Kate McQuaid, Sarah Gaylard and the young peer panel at Access Generation CIC
About Access Generation CIC
Access Generation CIC is a social enterprise that encourages businesses to employ inexperienced young people. Our purpose is to empower employers to attract the next generation. Our mission is to share young people’s views and expectations to help businesses become more visible and attractive to young people.
This report aims to summarise the experiences and suggestions of young people with regards to youth employment. Recommendations will then be offered based on the reports findings. Access Generation conducted research through asking young people to complete an online survey and attend interviews. The results showed that young people believe there is currently a lack of adequate investment into the next workforce generation. A key insight gained from this research was the lack of accessibility to apprenticeships and training opportunities. Additionally it was believed that the education system, businesses and the government have failed to cooperate in a way to ensure a continual and progressive support for young individuals. Based on these findings it is recommended that effective research should be conducted to identify the social groups and sectors that need the most support from the government. Secondly, increased investment should be put into youth’s future career by providing training and skills development opportunities that are relevant to their needs. Lastly, job creation should be promoted by encouraging businesses to employ young people. To summarise, Access Generation’s young people believe it is crucial for MPs to consider the knock on effect youth unemployment has further down the line to society, especially during the current pandemic where youth unemployment is an even more pressing issue.
A global pandemic and a national recession changed the world of work in 2020. Unemployment continues to rise and young people are facing the brunt of the problem, with the latest labour market figures showing that 797,000 young people are currently out of education, employment and training, the highest quarterly rise in a decade.
Young care leavers often lack the support, opportunities and social networks that their peers may have access to through their families and wider networks. In addition, they are more likely than their peers to experience mental health problems, be living independently and have experienced a disrupted education due to moves while in care. As a result, they face many more barriers to employment than other young people and, in the current economic context, are going to find it even more of a challenge getting into work.
We created the Gen @ work project in partnership with Leicestershire Cares to increase care leavers’ employability. We recruited young individuals who are keen to grow their personal brand and develop new skills such as communication, teamwork and interpersonal skills, regardless of their education and work experience background. The programme involved training and mentorship of all participants from the Peer Assistants, peer panel, support staff at Leicestershire Cares and managers at Access Generation. We believe that it is important for all participants to be supported throughout their work experience with Access Generation, in order to maximise the out-take from their marketing and research experience including writing blogs, leading virtual presentations, raising their profile with our employer contacts and boosting their resilience and confidence.
As an organisation that invests in young talent and shares an important message to encourage the recruitment of inexperienced youths by businesses, Access Generation is committed to raise the voices of young people through the experiences of unemployment in our peer panel and Gen @ work participants.
The House of Lords Committee on Youth Unemployment has identified that factors such as Brexit and technological developments have changed the labour market. Youth unemployment is a longstanding issue in the UK and one which has been exacerbated by COVID-19. The latest Office of National Statistics (ONS) data shows that under-25s account for over 60% of the fall in UK employees since before the pandemic. As a result, the committee is inviting the public to share their experience and submit evidence to help create and protect youth employment.
We believe that the learnings Access Generation has gained from our peer panel and Gen @ Work participants, have given us insight into young people’s expectations of the labour market and how education can support their professional development.
● Youth unemployment is a rising issue in the UK that requires thorough and crucial action plans and strategies to support young people.
● Our youth unemployment insight report is aimed to provide information on:
○ The challenges experienced by young jobseekers
○ Youths’ expectations of the world of work
○ Policies that can be implemented by the government to help create and protect youth employment
● Summarise the experiences and suggestions of young people in regards to their employment
● Offer recommendations, developed after surveying and interviewing young people involved with Access Generation, on how the government and the institutions it influences through laws and schemes can increase youth employment
The research methodology adopted for this report was a mixed-method approach. Data was collected and analysed from quantitative surveys and qualitative interviews with our peer panelists and Gen @ Work participants.
A total of 13 participants took part in the survey answering questions in regards to the role of education, businesses and the government in equipping young people with the right tools to enter and succeed within the world of work. The objective of this survey was to learn about the ways in which youths perceive the effectiveness of these different institutions to prepare them for unemployment and build a strong professional profile as well as the ways in which these organisations can improve their youth employment support schemes.
To further support our findings we conducted semi-structured interviews with our peer panelists and Gen @ Work participants which provided an open format for interviewees to freely communicate their views and observations. The contributions made by young people at Access Generation will be aimed to suggest the improvements needed in governmental policies and schemes to the House of Lords Committee on Youth Unemployment.
Below is a breakdown of the young respondents employment status:
Graph one- A breakdown of respondents employment status
As evidenced in graph one, the majority of respondents were full time students seeking employment.
Young people were asked about the challenges faced whilst seeking employment. They highlighted four core issues:
● the lack of provision of feedback after applying for jobs
● the lack of funding for employment opportunities dedicated to young people
● employers requesting for relevant work experience and qualifications especially for entry-level jobs
● and the unnecessary assessments that young candidates need to complete for certain job positions
The participants were asked to indicate the different factors impacting youth employment. Their responses are as follows:
● Firstly, employers often do not provide information on the job salary. This is important because “younger people are unaware of what they should be getting paid for the position they’re going for and what the average is for that role”
● Secondly, making work experience compulsory for secondary school and Sixth Form students would be beneficial to help them have a start with their career and learn about the world of work through, for example, networking
● Thirdly, accessibility within the workplace and funding dedicated to disabled employees would help create a comfortable and inclusive work environment
● Lastly, the government should encourage employers to create more youth employment schemes where young people are recruited “based on their skills rather than their experience”
Participants were also asked what changes in society they think will impact youth employment. The responses were as follows:
● Firstly, it was believed that increased access to training and skill development would help young people to gain employment.
● Secondly, the young people believed that diversity and inclusion initiatives impact youth employment.
● Another popular response was the impact of Covid on youth employment. Respondents believed this was due to a saturated job market making it more competitive when applying for jobs.
● Respondents also felt that technological advances may help youth employment.
Graph two- Are there any factors impacting youth employment?
When asked how they believed these factors could be addressed the respondents answered as follows:
● respondents believed that training could be provided by businesses to upskill young people and that employers could make an effort to introduce inclusive jobs.
● respondents felt that employers could help by focusing largely on candidates’ attitudes as opposed to their previous work experience.
Another question included in the survey was “How satisfied are you that finding in education and training allows young people to meet the needs of the labour market?”. Participants were asked to submit their level of satisfaction on a scale 0 to 5. Most respondents (38.5%) said that they were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied and only 15.4% said that they were strongly satisfied. This shows that funding in education and training is not enough to meet the needs of young people or to facilitate their transition into the labour market. Indeed participants explained that due to the low profile of careers services in education, the lack of knowledge surrounding the world of work, the scarcity of youth-focused work schemes and the absence of up to date training available for all young people including those over the age of 25, these young people often struggle to apply the content learnt through education and training.
Furthermore, participants were asked about how satisfied they are with the national curriculum and how it equips young people with the right knowledge and skills to find and secure jobs and careers. This question was scored on a Likert scale of 0 to 5. The majority of participants (78%) stated that they were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied or somewhat satisfied. This suggests that participants expressed a neutral view of how the national curriculum equips young people for the workplace, with some verging on more satisfied than dissatisfied. When asked what they believed could be done to make sure the national curriculum does equip young people in the future, participants stated the following:
● Schools should assess young people based on their potential rather than their lack of knowledge or skills.
● Schools should focus on seeking work experience opportunities for their pupils and day visits from employers. They should also teach students interview skills, CV writing etc.
● Schools should incorporate lessons about real-life skills (e.g. mortgages and tax) into their programme
A vast majority of 46.2% of respondents neither agreed nor disagreed with the statement “career education has prepared me for youth employment education”. A total of 92.3% of respondents said that they strongly agreed (53.8%) or somewhat agreed (38.5%) with the statement “work experience impacts the opportunities available to young people''. Over 69% of respondents indicated that “the role of businesses and universities is essential in creating a thriving jobs market for young people”. Young people at Access Generation CIC explained that businesses could provide volunteering opportunities, apprenticeships and traineeships to help develop skills for young people in Further and Higher education. They could also provide access courses and short-term placements for young people. Lastly, they suggested that businesses should build stronger relationships with educational institutions by providing workshops in schools to help young people learn more about different career paths.
To promote the equal value of vocational and non-vocational academic studies and work experience, government schemes should invest more in encouraging schools and businesses to promote apprenticeship in an equal manner as universities. Secondly, more funding should be offered to employers providing apprenticeships especially for those in sectors where many young people are seeking apprenticeship schemes. Our young people also suggested that government funding should focus on the following groups: disabled, inexperienced, non-education qualifications holders, and ethnic minorities. They suggested that for the government to conduct effective research in identifying those who need the most funding support, the government should use surveys and census as research methodologies. They also indicated that working with different local organisations will facilitate the collection of data from British residents.
Graph three- Do you feel that the apprenticeship levy provides a good source of opportunities for young people?
Graph three suggests that not many young people are aware of government schemes such as the Apprenticeship Levy. This could mean that more publicity needs to be done in order to raise young people’s awareness on the youth employment schemes. When participants were asked how it could be ensured that these work and training opportunities are offered to young people. They responded with the following:
● Employers could offer trials, shadowing and work experience opportunities
● More interaction could be made between companies and students
Our research shows that young people have identified a series of factors including the lack of feedback post-job application, the complex recruitment process and the underfunded youth employment schemes as some of the challenges encountered when trying to enter the world of work.
It was suggested that employers should begin to get involved with young people whilst they are attending secondary education. Companies should ensure that their job vacancies are accessible for all and are described in a comprehensive manner i.e by including salary range and degree of accessibility for disabled people. Furthermore, it was identified that due to the detrimental impact of Covid-19 on the job market there is an increased competition between candidates.
As a result, the young people proposed that the government could establish laws and policies to encourage businesses in becoming more diverse and inclusive. The government could also start initiatives to help grow the skills and development of the young labour force. Our young panel emphasised the importance of high-quality career education and training for young people especially in the current circumstances where many young people lack the knowledge and abilities to succeed in the world of work.
Ultimately young people feel that there is a lack of adequate investment into the next workforce generation, they believe that the education system, businesses and the government have failed to cooperate in a way to ensure a continual and progressive support for young individuals and that therefore the rapport between these institutions should grow closer and become more self-sustaining.
Final comments from the directors of Access Generation CIC
We believe that employers should be held accountable for training and development of employees. In-house training has fallen dramatically over the last 10 years and employers have expected education to pick up the slack.
Now is the time for employers to invest in training and development and to consider candidates as customers and be mindful of the harm they are causing with their poor recruitment practices (.e.g. No feedback, lack of acknowledgement).
There are other barriers to employment that young people face when applying online around accessibility such as jobs asking for qualifications or skills not required for the role or not making the process inclusive for a diverse range of people.
10th May 2021