The APPG for Youth Employment recently published its report into the role the government is asking businesses to play to support youth employment.
ThinkForward, which has business engagement at the heart our five-year programme, provided evidence to the inquiry. We were able to draw extensively on our own experiences of creating and managing relationships with employers to deliver work-related activities for young people to support them to make the right career choices.
Research shows that exposure to the workplace reduces the likelihood of young people going onto become unemployed when they leave school. However, there are several challenges on both education providers and businesses to deliver these opportunities.
You can read our full submission here but highlights of our evidence include:
- Study programmes, traineeships, T-levels, supported internships and apprenticeships all require varying degrees of employer engagement. Some of these programmes are funded across more than one government department but there does not appear to be any strategic coordination of their requirements, or any cross-government youth employment strategy.
- It is our experience that the employer engagement burden on schools is a huge challenge. Resourcing is difficult, especially given the funding constraints schools face.
- Schools and colleges can find it hard to provide employer opportunities for young people who are the least engaged, yet they are the students who need these experiences the most.
- Organisations like ThinkForward play an important role to bridge the gaps the schools cannot, both in developing young people to get them ready and interested to engage with workplace activities and identifying and nurturing businesses to provide the opportunities.
- There is huge variance across the UK in the ability of employers to provide engagement with young people. Some regions will contain large scale employers, a multitude of sectors and good transport links, whilst more rural areas will lack both the size and range of employers and the transport infrastructure to access what little opportunity there is.
- Businesses that are known to provide engagement opportunities are often inundated with requests and can’t handle the demand. SMEs often don’t have the resources so tend to shy away from providing any engagement opportunities at all.
- Creating and developing effective engagement takes time and resources – from both the business and school/college/youth organisation.
ThinkForward’s CEO Ashley McCaul said: ‘I’m delighted to see that one of the report’s recommendations reflects one of our suggestions that there should be a UK wide youth employment strategy. We know just how vital it is for young people to benefit from meaningful engagement with employers but currently the system is uncoordinated, patchy and too reliant on the good will of businesses.’