The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has designed a new campaign, entitled Learning to Work, in order to improve young people's job prospects.
Employers such as Marks and Spencer, Deloitte, Nestlé, O2 and NHS Employers have expressed their support for the programme.
According to CIPD research, nearly three in ten employers did not recruit a single young person in 2011 due to "structural problems". The professional association warns that focusing on the short-term spike in youth unemployment risks obscuring the more structural problems of youth unemployment.
Stephanie Bird, director of public policy at CIPD, said:
Our Learning to Work campaign will work with employers and policymakers to tackle this structural youth unemployment. We need a step-change in the relationship and level of engagement between employers and young people. But we also need to move beyond constant complaining about the shortcomings of ‘the youth of today’, to real, practical, sleeves-rolled-up engagement by employers to boost the employability and job prospects of young people. This campaign is intended to do just that.
Katerina Rüdiger, skills policy adviser at CIPD, said:
The real scandal of youth unemployment isn’t the high headline rates caused by the current weak economy. It is the gradual shift that has seen more and more young people struggling to find work in good times and bad.
Some of the challenges are quite simple. We know there is a gap between negative perceptions of today’s school and college leavers and the reality of the talents and capabilities they have to offer.
Through the Steps Ahead mentoring programme in the West Midlands, Rüdiger said that CIPD was helping to improve young people's chances at job interviews with help from those with recruitment and management experience.
But she stressed that there is "more to be done in helping employers recognise the vested interest they have in boosting the job-ready skills of young people, and in boosting the supply of ‘young-people-ready jobs’." She warned that:
Failure to rise to these challenges risks doing lasting damage to the global competitiveness of UK firms and the ability of the UK to attract investment and global firms to these shores.
The Learning to Work campaign will work by building closer links with schools and colleges; engaging with young people by giving them an early, quality experience of working life; increasing the provision of a variety of access and progression routes into organisations; providing more opportunities for work-based learning and vocational education and training; and helping young jobseekers to navigate the labour market.
The campaign is supported by an advisory board that pulls together public- and private-sector employers as well as leading organisations in the field, including City and Guilds, the Prince’s Trust, the Education and Employers Taskforce, the UK Commission for Employment and Skills and the IPPR.