Peers have told the Government that urgent action is needed to address the issue of youth unemployment
In a report out today by the Youth Unemployment Committee, peers say that there are skills gaps and shortages in existing and emerging sectors, damaging productivity.
The Government must develop a long-term national plan for identifying, anticipating, measuring and addressing skills gaps and shortages with a focus on the needs of the digital and green economy.
The Lords recomend that to ensure young people are equipped with essential knowledge and the technical, cultural and creative skills, the Government must recalibrate the compulsory components of the national curriculum and performance measures, putting skills development at the centre.
Access to high quality careers education is improving but equal provision remains patchy. The Government must make CEIAG a compulsory element of the curriculum in all schools from Key Stage 1 to 4 alongside religious education, and sex and relationships education, as part of a Career Guidance Guarantee.
Further Education has been undervalued and significantly underfunded. The Government must devise a new method of funding for FE, determined by student demand, and students accessing the Lifetime Skills Guarantee at levels 2 and 3 should attract automatic in-year funding determined by a tariff. This would ensure the availability of places, and result in extra funding so that institutions can recruit high quality teachers and obtain the latest industry-standard equipment.
Apprenticeships are in short supply, and current funding mechanisms tend to benefit older workers. The Government must require that any employer receiving funding from the apprenticeship levy must spend at least two thirds of that funding on people who begin apprenticeships at levels 2 and 3 before the age of 25.
Groups including Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups, those disadvantaged by socio-economic background, and those with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) face significant barriers to work. The Government must launch an Education and Workplace Race Equality Strategy, focussing on removing barriers including mandating regular collection of data. It must ensure every disadvantaged young person has access to tailored careers guidance.
Youth unemployment policy is created in silos, resulting in a confusing landscape of initiatives and a lack of accountability at the top. The Government must appoint an independent Young People’s Commissioner to be the voice of youth aged 16 to 24.
Lord Shipley, Chair of the Youth Unemployment Committee, said:
“Youth unemployment has blighted our society for decades and its impact can endure for years. At 11.7%, the UK’s youth unemployment rate continues to be worse than many other countries, and today more than one in eight (12.6%) of our under 25s are neither working nor in full-time study.
“Over 10 months, we spoke to young people with experience of unemployment, employers, school leaders and experts. Our report makes over 70 recommendations which would help to tackle youth unemployment. We urge the government to act.”