3 MIN READ
Date Posted: 18 January 2016
Lisa Hooley explains
This article was first published in the Municipal Journal on Thursday 28 January 2016 period
The number of young people in the UK not in education, employment or training may have hit an eight-year low, but the unemployment rate for 18-25-year olds in Britain still stands at a sizeable 13.7%. And according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) young people are experiencing the ‘worst economic prospects for several generations’.
New charity – the EY Foundation – is seeking to change that by working in partnership with local government and local employers to get more young people from disadvantaged communities into work by offering access to paid work experience and mentoring.
Giving young people a great start to work
According to the charity’s chief executive, Maryanne Matthews, a lack of access to meaningful, high quality, paid experiences of work and programmes of skills’ development is preventing thousands of young people, particularly from low income communities, from getting a good start to their working lives. ‘The opportunity for young people to spend quality time with local employers is essential to making a smooth transition from education into work, particularly from statutory education,’ she says. ‘For young people, the loss of experience at the start of their careers can have long-term effects, reducing their lifetime earnings and standards of living.’
A call to action
Maryanne is now calling on local businesses, schools, charities and the public sector to come together and make a difference to address some of the challenges young people face with getting into work. ‘By working with other organisations to support young people, we have the potential to address some of the complex issues which limit social mobility in the UK today. The problem is too big for any one organisation to tackle alone,’ she says.
Trafford Council invests in Greater Manchester’s young people
Trafford Council is already looking at ways in which it can work with local employers to change the employment prospects of young people in Greater Manchester, reduce the challenges and barriers to getting a job, and encourage economic growth in the region.
It hopes to support the charity’s Smart Futures programme in Manchester in 2016 – coming to the city for the third year running. Smart Futures is a national initiative to increase the employment prospects of young people in England and Scotland and is designed to connect young people in Year 12/Fifth Year with local employers, like Trafford Council, providing access, experience and skills development to secure a job post statutory education.
‘The council recognises the importance of offering work placement and mentoring opportunities and is looking forward to working in partnership with the Foundation to enable young people to gain experience, skills and development.’ Theresa Grant, Chief Executive, Trafford Council.
Starting with three weeks paid work experience in the summer, each Smart Futures student is allocated a mentor who works with them for the next ten months supporting them with life choices. On the programme students learn new skills, network and gain insights into different job opportunities available in and around a local city or town, inspiring them to consider careers that they may not otherwise have been exposed to.
Clive Memmott, chief executive of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, has shown his support for the programme. ‘With youth unemployment remaining high, programmes like Smart Futures are vital for arming young people with the right skills for the workplace. It’s no good moaning about a lack of employability skills if we don’t provide young people with the chance to get some experience in the first place,’ he said.
By working together with both employers and young people EY Foundation has been able to support over 400 young people into education, employment and enterprise in its first year as a charity. But in the next three it aspires to help thousands of young people who are disadvantaged in the labour market by giving them access to paid experiences of work with local employers that could lead to a job - from an apprenticeship to a school leave programme - or into higher education.
Maryanne says this would not be possible if it did not work closely with increasing numbers of UK employers who share its vision of training disadvantaged young people for the world of work. ‘Every day we see a growing desire amongst employers like Trafford Council to invest more in developing the skills of a more diverse workforce. Organisations are coming to realise that people from disadvantaged groups bring valuable skills; energy and insight that can help grow their businesses.’ She concludes: ‘It’s a social and economic imperative that we collaborate together to help transform lives. Every young person deserves a great start and UK employers have an active role to play in determining that.’