Young people must be prioritised as we all head back to work

Emerging research has shown that disadvantaged young people will be amongst the worst affected groups in society as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. 

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More than one in three 18 to 24-year-olds are earning less than before the outbreak, around a quarter have been furloughed, and a further 9 per cent have lost their jobs altogether – the highest figure out of all age groups.

With this in mind, Movement to Work is an organisation offering support and resources to businesses, youth outreach organisations and training providers in order to curb numbers of young people falling into NEET status ("Not in Education, Employment, or Training"). With a supporting Steering Group comprising of leaders from some of the UK’s biggest employers – BAE Systems, Accenture, Diageo and BT to name a few – this organisation is passionate about providing practical solutions to the very real problem of youth unemployment. 

What is Movement to Work?
Movement to Work is a not-for-profit coalition of UK employers, youth-outreach organisations, training providers and government allies – all aiming to level the playing field for young age people aged 16-30 facing barriers to work. As a robust delivery partner, we work with employers to design and implement brilliant work experience and vocational solutions for their organisation, either in-house or through one of our recommended training providers. With hundreds of organisational members, Movement to Work has a proven track record of driving social mobility with over 90,000 work placements delivered to date, made possible by employers, charities and Government working together. Collectively we have provided young people with diverse and empowering experiences ranging from hospitality to engineering, with regional hubs working in London, the Midlands, North East and North West to make a real difference nationwide.

Why should employers join Movement to Work?
Firstly –  it’s free to join. Secondly, it’s quite simple - if you’re looking for great young talent, we can help you. With us employers can receive bespoke advice, potentially access additional government funding, unlock diverse talent, bolster their CSR objectives and generate genuinely meaningful PR for their business. Of course, we also work with youth outreach charities and training providers, linking them to our employer members and suitable programmes. Movement to Work has formed a vibrant community offering best practice and resources for anyone that need them.

Why is now the time to prioritise helping young people into work?
The Covid-19 pandemic is the greatest threat to young people and their career prospects that we’ve ever seen. The social case is pretty clear – there is already evidence that prolonged spells of unemployment, particularly while young, can cause long-lasting “scars” on an individual’s future earnings, employment prospects and health and well-being. Reports also suggest that lengthy periods of unemployment exacerbate disenfranchised youth, making them more likely to turn to delinquency and lifestyles of crime. Further, as businesses feel the effects of a global pandemic on their bottom line, younger workers have a higher chance of losing their job and will in turn face difficulties paying their bills, creating new levels of debt. Alongside this, the business case is also becoming clearer. Covid-19 is hitting business budgets hard – yet hiring young people can be cost effective. Movement to Work members report savings recruiting via employability programmes versus traditional recruitment channels. What’s more, we have seen that in supporting and hiring disadvantaged young people, they can become loyal employees and customers long after first hire. Movement to Work believes we should continue to help young people into work because it works for them, it works for business, and it works for society.

What can employers do to help young people during this time?
We know this is a difficult time for organisations the world over and tough decisions are happening in virtual boardrooms every day. We don’t seek to aggravate already strained work forces, instead we are very much in support mode. Movement to Work has recently launched three initiatives to ensure we can all emerge stronger following the challenges posed by Covid-19. These are Young People First,Be accessible, go digital, and Support and empower. In short, whether it’s already furloughed workers, young people on development and training programmes, or potential new hires, Movement to Work encourages organisations to prioritise young people as part of their back to work strategy. Secondly, Movement to Work urges organisations to find creative ways to continue training, development and work experience for young people online. We can offer advice and best practice on how to make this transition, including sharing tools that are already out there and initiatives to support accessibility. Finally, we must help vulnerable young people recover from this trauma by boosting their confidence, providing meaningful support and ensuring their safety. This much seems obvious. We must help young people to feel a part of society by giving them new opportunities to improve their prospects, putting money in their pockets, and enabling a new wave of active consumers with bright futures ahead of them.

Dal Channa is Movement to Work Interim CEO. For Movement to Work latest news, events, advice and resources, head to their dedicated COVID-19 campaign page for more info: https://www.movementtowork.com/covid-19-campaign/

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