Business needs to do more to help young people moving into the workplace [New research]

07 September 2016 -


With demand for highly-skilled managers set to grow over the coming years, youngsters are being let down when it comes to preparation for working life

Matt Scott

Almost a third of young people aged 16 to 21 in the UK (32%) aren’t confident about finding a job near their home town in the next few years, according to the latest research from CMI and the EY Foundation.

The report, Age of Uncertainty: Young people’s views on the challenges of getting into work in 21st century Britain, found that a lack of information about local job opportunities was an issue for 35% of young people, with 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 having the potential to impact on young people’s working prospects in the UK.

Young workers from lower socio economic groups are most likely to suffer from a lack of job prospects (33%), compared to 25% for youngers in higher social groups.

The CMI research also found that 40% of 16-21-year olds aspire to become the boss of a company, 63% would like to lead a team, and 37% would like to start their own business.

But the skills necessary for such a role are not currently being taught to help young people successfully make the transition from the classroom to the workplace.

To help combat this growing problem, 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.

CMI chief executive Ann Francke said: “Young people aspire to become leaders but it’s currently the 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.”

The focus for this agenda 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 half (56%) of young people said that they think it is difficult to get the experience they need to get a job they want. 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 16-18-year olds say that their school offers work experience, compared to 64% of those now aged 19-21.

Some 88% of the young people surveyed said that employers should offer young people more experience of work.

Maryanne Matthews, chief executive of the EY Foundation, said: “What young people are saying loud and clear in this report is that there is a disconnect between having an experience of work and the confidence to get a job, especially if they come from a low-income household.

“And while we are hearing that many employers, schools and colleges across the country are doing great things and offering inspiring experiences of work, there are still too many young people who are not getting this access – and they are calling for it!”

“We want every young person, in every region across the UK to have the same systematic and high-quality experiences of work with local employers,” she adds “Greater levels of collaboration are needed to fix this - and that’s what the recommendations in this report are all about.”

Find out more about the Age of Uncertainty and how young people are struggling to find the information and skills they need to be successful at work

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