Employers should engage with government skills initiatives to provide better opportunities for young people and make it easier for them to progress in their careers, according to a report that finds many young people feel shut out of the labour market.
Only 17% of young working people are currently doing the job they want and 30% of 18-24 year olds feel they will never achieve their career ambitions, research by City & Guilds finds.
As UK employers face a skills shortage, 13% of 18-24 year olds are not in work or education, and a further 3% are economically inactive, the survey of 5,000 young people found.
According to official statistics from the ONS, 12.5% of 18-24 year olds are currently NEET (not in education, employment or training) making this cohort overrepresented in unemployment.
City & Guilds said the findings indicate that many young people feel excluded from the labour market. One in 10 who are not working or studying say they never intend to start working and 64% feel it is not easy for them to get a good job.
Young workers and the labour market
The report highlights potential issues with social mobility, with those who received free school meals more likely to report difficulties accessing good work.
Those who faced difficulties early on in life were more likely to feel unable to achieve their career aspirations, including 59% who have been in prison, 54% of refugees and 44% who have been in the care system.
Asked what they believed was holding them back from achieving their career goals, 24% say they do not feel confident or mentally ready enough to apply for their desired role and 22% feel they do not have the required skills or experience.
The Youth misspent report says that entry-level apprenticeships have declined since the apprenticeship levy was introduced, which has significantly reduced opportunities for young people to get a foot on the career ladder.
It also finds a mismatch between young people’s career aspirations and the number of job opportunities in their desired industries. Fifteen per cent of those surveyed want a job in arts, entertainment and recreation, despite roles in this sector representing just 2% of the labour market, and 8% want a finance and insurance role, which represents 3% of the labour market.
Having a ′good′ salary is young people’s top priority when it comes to looking for a new job. Forty-five per cent consider interesting and exciting work as a priority, 42% want job security, and 41% look for flexibility.
Kirstie Donnelly, City & Guilds CEO, said high youth unemployment was an issue long before the pandemic, with the current labour market “baking in inequality and preventing millions of young people from meeting their potential”.
“If we don’t open doors for young people from all backgrounds to enter the labour market, and invest in their skills, we are losing out on all of that of talent and creativity. And ultimately, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot,” she said.
“Young people should be forming be a critical part of the UK’s recovery story and harnessing their potential will be essential if we are to come out of the other side of another recession with a brighter future ahead. Crucially, if we don’t fix this now, we risk storing up more problems for generations to come, exacerbating productivity shortfalls and social inequalities in the long term.”
The report advises employers to:
- Further engage in the skills system and government initiatives to improve opportunities for young people and fill skills gaps, including apprenticeships, skills bootcamps and T-levels
- Make it easier for the most disadvantaged to access jobs, such as recruiting into entry level roles based on attitude and aptitude rather than prior experience or qualifications
- Provide more work experience and paid internship or training opportunities
- Share experience and perspectives with the government to help inform development of a skills system that meets employers’ and young people’s needs.