Young people need more from school to succeed, says survey

Written by Andrew Holt

Today’s education system is failing many young people from disadvantaged backgrounds – according to a new survey published by an alliance of organisations led by Impetus – The Private Equity Foundation.

On the eve of GCSE results day, the alliance is calling for schools to do more to prepare their students for life after education.

Young people aged 16-24 were asked a range of questions including: What’s the biggest barrier to finding work?; Where do you seek advice about employment options? and; If you could change one thing to help young people get jobs, what would it be?

The responses pointed to two main areas of concern:

1. Schools need to do more to prepare young people for the world of work: this includes providing structured careers advice and broader information on the type of jobs available. One respondent said: “Visits from employers and compulsory weekly sessions with a careers advisor would make a huge difference to students’ focus”.

2. Young people are crying out for more relevant, structured and substantial work placement opportunities so they can develop transferable skills and gain the right experience that will help them land a job when they leave school. One respondent said: “It should be compulsory for all 14 year olds to work one day a week as part of the curriculum. This would give real insight into the world of work and help them develop the skills needed to get a job after they leave education”.

Despite welcome improvements in the overall unemployment rate (down 132,000 to 2.08m ONS August 2014), the number of 16-24 year olds who are out of work remains disproportionately high (767,000).

Impetus-PEF chief executive officer Daniela Barone Soares said: “37% of all unemployed people are aged 16-24 which means young people are still bearing the brunt of unemployment in the UK.

"This is often as a result of poor educational attainment and limited preparedness for the world after school.

"As a nation, we have spent billions of pounds and countless hours trying to solve the problem but with only limited success.

"The result is a generation of already-disadvantaged young people whose prospects diminish year on year at great cost to themselves and society.”

Barone Soares continued: “Unemployment while young can lead to long-term reductions in wages, increased likelihood of subsequent periods of unemployment, and poorer health outcomes.

"Economically disadvantaged young people are particularly at risk of being unemployed and we believe schools need to do more to prepare them for life after education.

"We need structured and relevant careers advice, more work experience opportunities and the better promotion of vocational courses, traineeships and apprenticeships.

"These should build to a minimum standard of employability experience that young people can expect to receive at school – or even an ‘employability experience guarantee’.”

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