Kirstie Donnelly, CEO of City and Guilds

64% of youth say it’s not easy to get a good job

30% of young people don’t think they will ever be able to achieve their career ambitions

The outlook is bleak for young people’s futures, according to new research from City & Guilds. The research found that 13% of UK youth are currently unemployed (not in work or studying), and a further 3% are economically inactive. This equates to approximately 859,000 young adults.

The survey looked at a sample of  5,000 18 to 24-year-olds living in the UK, and the findings show that many young people feel completely excluded from the labour market. When looking at the young adults who are currently studying or out of work, 9% (227,000 people)  don’t intend to start working.

The findings show that the UK youth are rapidly losing hope in what is perceived as a hostile labour market with limited opportunities. This suggests that they are being let down by the education system, Government, as well as employers.

According to the research, 30% of young people don’t think they will ever be able to achieve their career ambitions. This sentiment is highest among those who are currently not working (35%). Youth who have faced challenges in their early lives – especially those who have been in the prison system (59%), been a refugee (54%), or been through the care system (44%) also share the negative sentiment.

 When looking at those who wish to work, there are real barriers to getting jobs.

  • 43% do not believe that their education has equipped them to get the job they want.
  • 64% say that it is not easy to get a good job these days
  • 29% say they have struggled to get interviews.
  • 19% say there simply aren’t jobs available in their location.

With these difficulties to face, most young people strongly believe both Government and employers must do more to support them. Only 26% of the respondents think the Government is doing enough to support young people entering the workforce. That number drops to just 19% among those that are unemployed.

The report, entitled Youth Misspent, set out key recommendations for employers, Government, and educators to help young people to enter the labour market. These recommendations include:

  • Employers to engage with the skills system and existing skills initiatives to provide better opportunities and progression for youngsters. This will also assist to fill critical skills shortages.
  • Employers are also to make it easier for young people (particularly the disadvantaged) to enter the job market and progress in their careers/
  • The Government is encouraged to work with educators and employers to optimise existing skills interventions and make full use of any funding available. They are also advised to improve careers guidance and education from early years onwards.
  • Educators are advised to help young people be more aware of the broader education and career opportunities available to them, as well as to ensure that curricula are inclusive, allowing everyone to achieve their best.

Kirstie Donnelly, CEO of City and Guilds, said: “We can’t keep blaming the pandemic for the issues facing today’s youth. High youth unemployment has been an issue for more than a decade and the pandemic was just another challenge heaped onto an already creaking system that makes it incredibly difficult for young people to convert their aspirations into good jobs.

 “In addition, our research found that young people who have faced additional challenges, such as young carers, care and prison leavers and those who come from less affluent families, are falling way behind their peers in the labour market at the earliest stage of their careers. The current system is baking in inequality and preventing millions of young people from meeting their potential.”

“Young people should 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.”

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