Minutes Of Meeting 16th September 2015

APPG Youth Employment

1st Session

16th September 2015



Chloe Smith MP

Baroness Deborah Steadman-Scott

Michael Tomlinson MP

Chris Green MP

Andrew Taggart – The Found Generation

Lizzie Crowley – The Work Foundation

Laura-Jane Rawlings – Youth Employment UK

Kenechi Eziefula – Youth Employment UK

Statistics on Youth Employment

Chloe Smith MP presented the latest youth unemployment data published by the House of Commons Library – Youth Unemployment Statistics

The report highlighted that 723,000 16-24 were unemployed in May-July 2015, down 17,000 from the previous quarter.

Andrew Taggart – highlighted that youth unemployment was not shifting at structural levels and was likely falling at a slower pace than previously seen as the government has benefited from the “easy wins.”

A discussion took place on exploring the hidden youth unemployment data and underemployment, as there is a belief that the number of young people “hidden” or underemployed is increasing, which affects overall productivity and it is harder to access support.

Deborah Stedman-Scott advised the APPG of the need to agree base stats that we all work to. Intervention strategies need to be based on this agreement. This was agreed by Chloe Smith MP.

Lizzie Crowley gave her presentation on youth unemployment and the structural causes.  You can download the presentation now in the resource section of the APPG website.

Highlighted Points:

  • Evidence points to a growing structural youth unemployment problem. Long term youth unemployment in the UK has been on a long term upward trend since the early 2000’s – so even while the economy was growing and employment was rising.
  • The reasons behind the long term rise in youth unemployment are not entirely well understood. However, one of the most likely explanations is that long running changes in the economy have disadvantaged new entrants to labour market – particularly young people who leave school with few formal qualifications.
  • The types of jobs that young people generally work in are concentrated at the lower end of the labour market – in elementary or unskilled occupations, many of which are in the hospitality sector, or in sales and customer services roles.

Together these provide around half of all job opportunities for young workers in the UK labour market.

  • However these occupations have been in long term decline a trend which has accelerated during the recession and recovery. Growth has been concentrated at the top end of the labour market in highly skilled professional and managerial roles whilst mid skilled occupations and low skilled occupations have continued to contract.
  • The opportunities that do exist are increasingly being taken up by older more experienced workers, themselves displaced by declining mid-skilled jobs.
  • In the future this trend looks set to continue – over the next decade growth will be concentrated in higher skilled occupations while there will be continued hollowing out of mid and low skilled work.
  • Young people are increasingly concentrated in service sector jobs – roles which require them to demonstrate soft skills – skills which are very difficult to demonstrate without work experience. Yet fewer young people are combining work and study and many leave education without ever having had a paid job. This seriously disadvantages when they face competition for entry level roles from older more experienced workers.
  • It also means that qualifications more important than ever – there is a significant wage premium for graduates who have very low unemployment rates whilst those who leave education with few formal qualifications suffer a large employment penalty
  • The polarisation of the labour market has also led to concerns about concerns about limited progression and lack of effective career ladders in low wage service sector employment.
  • The polarisation of the labour market has also happened in many other European countries albeit to a lesser extent.
  • Yet countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark have managed to maintain consistently low levels of youth disengagement despite the global recession and changes in the nature of work.
  • In the case of these countries youth labour market has been sheltered from these changes by a strong vocational education and training system and supportive youth policy.
  • However in the UK, whilst vocational education has been at the forefront of government reforms and growth in apprenticeships has been heralded as an out and out success story, they are still a very weak route into the labour market for young people.
  • A concern that many apprenticeships have gone to existing employees or those 19 + rather than new entrants to the labour market.
  • There are also major issues not just with quantity and access but with the quality of the apprenticeships on offer.
  • We also know that other countries with low levels of youth unemployment have a strong youth jobs market with lots of opportunities for young people to combine work and learning – as shown by this chart – ensuring that they developed valuable experience to help them build skills and access work whilst completing education.

The UK on the other hand is experienced a collapse in the number of young people combining work and study

  • Looking forward, key risks on the transition of young people from school to work include:
  • Ensuring recovery broadens and is sustainable – limited impact of youth labour market so far – risks leaving young people behind
  • Clarifying non-academic pathways
  • Very complex local pathways for ’the other 50 per cent’ with limited advice and no equivalent of UCAS available to guide people through getting to college or applying for an apprenticeship
  • Strengthening further education provision – Weaknesses in further education provision which leaves 1.5 million learners in the post-16 learning and skills sector in provision rated less than good. Further education is less generously funded than higher education and has been subject to large cuts. There are concerns that the sector has historically had weak incentives to ensure that students find work.
  • Incentives for schools to identify and re-engage young people still remain weak, though accountability changes and the introduction of destinations data may help
  • Improving the careers guidance offer – Ofsted reports that three-quarters of schools failing in duty to secure appropriate careers advice and guidance
  • Simplifying support and funding – One study has found that at least eight national organisations, funding 33 different funds and schemes, spanning 13 different age groups to aid transition to different destinations
  • Greater local co-ordination of youth services – Local authorities have formal responsibility for NEETs, but the activity of more than 10 per cent of 16–18-year-olds in local authority data on NEETs is ‘unknown’
  • Increased employer engagement

Laura-Jane Rawlings referenced a recent EU Youth Affairs report that highlighted much of the issues brought to light in The Work Foundation report.

Andrew Taggart gave his presentation on the current policy landscape around youth unemployment. Summarising that there are many good initiatives but not good enough on their own and they are far from clear.

BIS target of 3 million apprenticeships is ambitious and there are still questions around quality and if there is a focus on ensuring apprenticeships go to young people in new posts, rather than reskilling existing staff.

DWP are looking at the Youth Obligation which may force young people to take unpaid work experience, there is questions over whether this will help young people make a positive transition or deter young people from finding help through the JCP.

DfE have invested in The Careers and Enterprise Company a £20 million investment which will provide a network of volunteers from business supporting individual schools with their careers education strategy. The Careers and Enterprise Company will also be investing in an Enterprise Passport and amongst other service.

LJR: There are frameworks for some schools are very invested in careers education. But is a post code lottery schools are not required to have it and it is not governed.

LC: ¾ of schools are failing in securing adequate careers advice. Shocking but schools have not been given extra funding to do so.

  1. A large part of what the APPG needs to do, is highlight the areas of good practice where real barriers for young people are being addressed at a local level. Baroness Deborah Steadman-Scott was asked about programmes that are working such as Tomorrow’s People and the mentoring it provides.

BDSS: What has worked best is that TP have got coaches in London for young people aged 14-19 that are not projected to get good grades or have low engagement.  The coach is part of management team in schools. The coaches are reducing NEETS (not in Education, Employment or Training) in that cohort by huge percentages. If we can get more of these in schools we would make a big difference.

LJR: More work needs to be done to join some of the really good initiatives at a local level bringing in the Jobcentre and other providers so there is a cohesive approach in communities.

LJR: Thanked colleagues for attending and confirmed the next meeting will be on the 21st of October, with the location to be confirmed as a bigger room may be needed.

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