Government and businesses must do more to tackle youth unemployment, REC warns

The government and businesses must do more to tackle youth unemployment to prevent a “lost generation” of jobless, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) has warned.

A report by the REC has recommended an overhaul of schools career services and a drive to increase good quality internships.

Currently, there are 2.47 million people in the UK who are unemployed, with 713,000 of those aged between 18 to 24.

The REC’s Youth Employment Taskforce said the direct cost of youth unemployment is £4.7bn a year and has argued that although the public sector is facing the deepest spending cuts in decades, existing sources of funding could be more effectively targeted.

Margaret Prosser, chairman of the REC’s taskforce, said “it’s not about new money”.

She added: “What we do expect is for funding to be effectively targeted and to deliver real progress. Employers, recruiters, welfare providers, trade unions and educationalists all have a critical role to play in addressing one the greatest challenges facing our society.”

The taskforce warned the current careers advice service offered to school and university leavers was failing to prepare them for the world of work.

Kevin Green, chief executive of the REC, said: “Young jobseekers are not getting the skills and experience they need to take the crucial first step onto the jobs ladder. As a country, we are not building the talent pipeline that we need to compete over the next decade.

“The ‘expectations gap’ that currently exists between jobseekers and employers is a real challenge but is one that can be addressed by improving links between business and educationalists.”

The REC has said young people must be given some understanding of the world of work by the time they are 14, and specific targets and incentives should be set for schools and colleges to develop employer-led careers guidance.

Businesses and recruiters should also invest time and resources in partnering with education providers, the Daily Telegraph has reported.

The REC also urged the government to ensure funded training schemes reflect the current and future skills needs of employers and that employment should be stimulated through a two-year national insurance holiday for each additional young person employed in the private sector.

New technical academies should also be created to offer vocational training and qualifications.

The taskforce will meet again in October. “This is the start of a conversation. We’re trying to influence the agenda,” said Green.

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