“Youth Matters” continue to dominate headlines in run-up to Youth Employment Convention

20 October 2015

“Youth matters” continue to take centre stage in the press this week due to the release of a number of research studies, written from a variety of different policy and political angles.

The left of centre Think tank “Demos” tells us that their “Mind over Matter” report highlights that many teenagers, especially 18 year olds are unhappy and feeling that school is only preparing them for exam success. There’s a sharp decline in self-belief between the ages of 14 and 18 that especially affects girls says the report, which calls for more help for schools and colleges to understand how perseverance and resilience can be instilled in to pupils.

Later this week Ofsted is expected to be highly critical of the apprenticeship system saying apprenticeship numbers have grown at the cost of quality. The head of Ofsted Sir Michael Wilshaw will say that professional technical skills are not being delivered at apprenticeship level in the sectors that need them most. Stewart Segal, Chief Executive of AELP has taken Ofsted to task for undervaluing some apprenticeships telling FE Week:

“All apprenticeship programmes cover a wide range of skills and it is unfortunate that Ofsted give the impression that there are programmes that consist of ‘cleaning floors’. Cleaning floors as part of an apprenticeship programme is not in our view ‘low level’ and the next time we all need the services of a hospital or care home, we will all be grateful that whoever did it had good training.”

The employers group British Chambers of Commerce in a study this week branded the cutting of compulsory work experience for school children as “careless” with John Longworth its Director General was quoted as saying “We won’t bridge the gap between the world of education and the world of work unless young people spend time in workplaces while still at school.”

Meanwhile right of centre think tank Policy Exchange got a lot of coverage for its report “Higher, Further Faster, More” and its major recommendation that over £1/2 billion should be diverted at the Spending Review from universities to boost the quality of higher level professional and technical courses in FE colleges. The premise for the proposal was the continuing mismatch between the skills the UK needs and the skills young people present with: the Royal Academy of Engineering forecasts 830,000 more engineers required by 2020; 28% of firms requiring STEM trained employees are reporting recruitment difficulties and 20% more skilled construction workers are required in London and the South East in the 2014-2017 period than were in 2010-2013.

Across the political and policy spectrum it’s clear that addressing the employability and skills issues affecting young people, their ambitions and their likelihood of achieving successful careers is seen as fundamentally important to the UK’s growth and prosperity. What is less obvious is how, in straightened financial circumstances, this can be achieved. The Youth Employment Convention creates a dynamic environment and brings policy makers, practitioners, employers and young people together to create the relationships, networks and synergy that will drive the reform we need to maximise the life chances of young people and enable them to become highly skilled, high earning workers.

Join Inclusion, strategic partner the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) and Convention partners the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) and Youth Focus in London on November 24 2015 at the biggest UK convention addressing youth employment and achievement.