Young people take part in an employability class. Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

Young people need more help moving from education into work

The latest NEETs figures show that many of the children receiving their GCSE results today won't have a smooth journey from education into work.

The release of the latest figures for the number of young people (aged under 25) in the UK who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) is a reminder that many of the young people receiving their GCSE results today will not make a smooth transition from education into the world of work.

Although there has been a welcome fall in the number of young people who are NEET – down 20,000 from the previous quarter and 138,000 from a year earlier – there are still 955,000 who find themselves in this position: more than one in eight of all young people. Around half of these are looking and available for work and are classified as unemployed (with the rest counted as economically inactive).

A long period without work, while young, can have a long-lasting effect on a person’s life chances, leading to a higher future likelihood of unemployment and lower future earnings. Policymakers should make it a priority to bring the proportion of NEETs in the UK down to the rates seen in those countries in Europe that perform best in this respect: Germany, Austria, Denmark and the Netherlands all have NETT rates that are least than half the rate in the UK.

In a recent report, we analysed the experience of young people across Europe and found that - for those who do not go to university -a strong workplace-based vocational education and training system, with high employer involvement, contributes more to a smoother transition from education to work and a low risk of being NEET than anything else. A number of steps will need to be taken to bring the UK’s system into line with the best in Europe.

Employers will need to be more involved in young people’s training to ensure that they develop meaningful, useful skills. One way to increase their engagement would be to make them take a financial stake through the introduction of a youth apprenticeship levy to be paid at a national rate by all firms above a certain size, with the proceeds used to fund vocational education and training for young apprentices.

At the same time, vocational education in England will need to be reformed so that it is held in higher esteem by employers and young people. This will require a greater focus on employability. Higher level vocational education should be seen as a valid alternative pathway into work to a university education.

Apprenticeships will also need to be improved. The coalition government has taken some welcome steps make them better but more needs to be done. Apprenticeships should be seen by students and employers as a high-quality vocational route into work for young people. No one aged 23 or over should be allowed to start an apprenticeship (except in exceptional circumstances) and few apprentices should be aged 25 or over. All apprenticeships should be at level 3 and above and should last for a minimum of one year. Traineeships should be developed into pre-apprenticeships. And apprentices should spend at least 30 per cent of their time doing off-the-job training.

Careers education and guidance play a crucial role in ensuring a smooth transition from education to work in those European countries that have low rates of youth unemployment. Careers education should be embedded in the curriculum from primary school onwards and for pupils in Years 7, 8 and 9 should involve a greater degree of contact with local employers. Careers guidance – and some careers education – should be provided by specialist advisers, not teachers and every secondary school should be required to appoint a full-time Careers Officer responsible for careers education and guidance and for liaison with local employers.

Finally, a distinct work, training and benefits system should be established for young people with a youth allowance available to all young people aged 18 to 21 years old in further education and training or who are actively looking for a job; a job guarantee, which would provide paid work experience to any young person aged 18 to 21 years old who has been out of work and looking for a job for six months; and a personal adviser who would help young people to find work or to identify the most appropriate further education and training opportunities.

Tony Dolphin is Chief Economist at IPPR

Tony Dolphin is chief economist at IPPR

Getty
Show Hide image

The top 10 reasons Brexit isn't working, according to Brexiteers

We'd have got away with it, if it weren't for that pesky Mark Carney. 

Over the next few years, it is likely that the economy will shrink, that the entire government will be consumed by trade negotiations at the expense of every other priority, and that EU leaders will use their considerable negotiation advantages to theatrically screw us. As this unpretty story unfolds, those who argued confidently for Brexit, in parliament and in the press, will feel compelled to maintain that they were right, and that if it hadn’t been for some other impossible-to-foresee factor everything would be going splendidly. What follows is an attempt to anticipate the most predictable post-rationalisations; I’m sure there will be more creative efforts.

1. WHITEHALL SABOTAGE. If we’re making no progress in trade negotiations, that’s because the civil service is doing its best to scupper a successful Brexit. That power-crazed madman Jeremy Heywood will stop at nothing to ensure he is bossed by Brussels, and the snooty bastards at the Treasury are working to subvert the national will out of spite. Even as our finest ministers strive manfully to cut Britannia free of its enslaving chains, all they hear from functionaries is “It’s a bit more complicated than that”. It’s only complicated because they want it to be.
 

2. REMAINERS TALKING DOWN THE COUNTRY. God knows we tried to reach out to them, with our gently teasing admonitions for being elitist snobs who just needed to get over it. But did they concede that a glorious future is at hand, if only we all wish for it? No, my friends, they did not. Instead, they sulkily point out how the things they predicted would happen are in fact happening, as if this somehow proves they were right. And since, inexplicably, the world agrees them, the whiners’ prophecy is being fulfilled.
 

3. THE GLOBAL ECONOMY. It appears the UK economy has sunk into a recession. Now, the whiners will tell you that this has got something to do with the vast uncertainty created by taking a fundamental decision about the nation’s future without a clue about how to implement it. In reality, of course, the recession has been caused by the same global economic headwinds that had absolutely nothing to do with the 2008 financial crisis, which was all Gordon Brown's fault.
 

4. ECONOMISTS. Since they nearly all said that Britain would be worse off if it voted Out, they now feel compelled to tell us that things are indeed worse. OK, maybe they are worse. But think about it: if we hadn’t voted Out, the economy might be even more calamitously buggered than it is now. This is logically unassailable. But do economists ever point it out? Do they Brussels. Yet sadly, global businesses, investors, consumers, and lots of other people who frankly lack gumption or vision, take these so-called experts seriously.
 

5. MARK CARNEY. Let’s get this straight: the Canadian governor of the Bank of England doesn’t want Britain to succeed, because then we’d be a direct competitor to his motherland. But with his honeyed voice and perpendicular jaw and incessant references to “data”, this man has gone a long way to convincing much of the public that he is some kind of disinterested authority on Britain’s economy. In reality, of course, he is out to destroy it, and seems to be making a pretty good fist of doing so.
 

6. EU BUREAUCRATS. You know those people we spent years attacking for being interfering, self-enriching, incompetent fools? Turns out they are now keen to make our lives as difficult as possible. The way to deal with this, of course, is to mount a national campaign of vilification. Another one. Before long they will be begging for mercy.
 

7. THERESA MAY. Look, we all wanted her to succeed. We knew she wasn’t one of us, but she wasn’t exactly one of them either, so we gave her a chance. Yet perhaps it is time to admit the possibility that the Prime Minister isn’t making this work because, when it comes down to it, she just doesn’t share our blood-pumping, sap-extruding belief in Britain unbound. In short, she’s just too damn reasonable. It’s time to embrace the unreasonable man. What’s Boris doing these days?
 

8. THOSE OTHER BREXITEERS (i). Not only can we not get the Remainers to present a united front to Brussels, it seems that we can’t even rely on our fellow Brexiteers. Most of us are on the same page: take back control of our borders, blue passports, compulsory blazers, onwards and upwards to the sunlit uplands. But there are some among our own ranks who frankly don’t get it. These latte-sipping media types simper on endlessly about the importance of retaining access to the single market and seem awfully keen on Norway. Why don’t they just go and join Remain?
 

9. THOSE OTHER BREXITEERS (ii). Hey guys, the problem is this: Brexit got hijacked by the roast beef and two veg brigade, OK? For us it was always about unleashing the entrepreneurial spirit, shaking off the dead hand of Eurocrat regulation, being more human, that kind of thing. We had to go along with all that anti-immigration stuff but believe me we were biting our tongues and crossing our fingers. Some of our best friends are Turkish.
 

10. NONSENSE, IT IS WORKING.

Ian Leslie is a writer, author of CURIOUS: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends On It, and writer/presenter of BBC R4's Before They Were Famous.