Sadly, not everyone has access to a great education, university, a gap year and excellent job opportunities. Indeed, there are thousands of children and young people across the world that haven’t had these privileges. They have had to deal with a lack of parental support or just not enough money to be able to pay for laptops and smartphones, let alone an internet connection.
The coronavirus pandemic has not only highlighted the problem, in many cases it has created an even bigger problem. This is where organisations like Kickstart, Youth Hubs, Catch-22 and Restart come in through innovative partnerships with businesses to support and boost youth employment in the UK.
The current employment environment
The latest figures from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has predicted that unemployment in the UK will reach 75% in 2021. This is backed up by the Learning & Work Institute that believes unemployment will reach its highest level since 1994 – 1.6 million – in the year 2021-22.
Whilst these figures are alarming and many young people are facing employment struggles, there are organisations that are working hard to reverse these figures, particularly in the youth sector.
Bridging the skills gap
Believe it or not, the UK’s skills gap is not limited to entry-level or low management jobs; it also affects senior management and even doctors. The rising demand for digital skills, accentuated by the current pandemic, presents the UK with an opportunity to re-skill large proportions of the labour market.
Catch-22 have designed a series of re-skilling programmes that target digital skills, and work with companies like Microsoft, Google and Salesforce in embracing potential talent in the UK’s younger generation.
Government and business collaboration
At a time when long-term youth unemployment is at an all-time high, the government has launched their Plan for Jobs initiative, which the Restart scheme is part of, and is providing Job Centre Plus with £1.4bn extra funding. Whilst this is definitely a step in the right direction, the ongoing support and drive to create innovative partnerships with businesses is still crucial in sustaining youth employability in the UK.
How can businesses help boost youth employability?
So, as a business, what can you do to help youth employability and create innovative partnerships with organisations to help the UK’s younger generation? There are four key areas:
- Offer the opportunity of gaining work experience virtually – how do you gain that all-important work experience employers are looking for if no-one gives you an opportunity? Programmes, like the Social Switch Project and Digital Edge are helping to train people with the essential digital skills they need. Can your business offer a few weeks work experience to mentor a young person and give them a step up on their career ladder? Not only will it benefit your business, it is giving them a crucial opportunity to gain experience, and it doesn’t cost you a penny.
- Take advantage of the apprenticeship levy – in the UK, any business that has a payroll of £3 million or above pays a monthly 0.5% deposit, or levy, into a central apprenticeship ‘pot’. Amazingly, as many as 50% of businesses don’t take advantage of this levy and are missing out on giving a young person the opportunity of an apprenticeship. The levy is there to not only train existing staff, but also train a new apprentice; a highly beneficial advantage for everyone.
- Employ a trainee or apprentice – if you’re not a business that’s adding to the apprenticeship levy, don’t worry, you still have an opportunity to give a young person a step up on their career ladder via a trainee or apprentice position. The government will support you with a payment of up to £2,000 and other youth employment organisations offer plenty of help.
- Get upskilling – the demand for technological and digital skills is booming. Through support from the government and other organisations, your business can benefit significantly by providing training for existing staff to learn new skills. Not only is it more cost effective than hiring new staff, it also boosts staff morale and builds loyalty.
It’s time all businesses reached out to the youth of today; they are our future. There are a multitude of hardworking organisations and programmes across the UK with whom you can work with to boost youth employability through innovative partnerships. For example, Jobs 22, Movement to Work’s Emerge Stronger campaign, Barclays Connect with Work programme and The Children’s Society’s Bright Light initiative
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