The latest Review of Employment and Social Developments in Europe (20 December 2016), whilst showing positive trends in job-creation and rising overall employment, remains haunted by the spectre of youth unemployment, which continues to stay stubbornly high at over 20%. Separately, the ILO’s 2016 World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends for Youth paper estimated that global youth unemployment was set to rise for the first time in 3 years- from 12.9% in 2015 to 13.1%- and remain at this level throughout 2017. In light of uncertain political conditions for the New Year, the ability to support the aspirations of young people entering the job market will be crucial to governments world-wide.
The barriers that young people face to gaining lasting employment include a lack of qualifications and relevant experience, the prevalence of temporary over permanent job contracts (especially in the growing ‘gig-economy’) and limited access to apprenticeships and training programmes. In Europe, Youth Guarantee schemes since 2013 have come some way towards tackling this issue, with around 9 million young people taking up offers of employment, apprenticeships, traineeships or further education through the initiative. Further financial stimulus for the Youth Employment Initiative has been proposed for 2017 to provide direct support to Member States most affected by youth unemployment.
Ingeus strongly supports these initiatives. Our extensive experience delivering employability and training programmes globally has taught us the value in taking a holistic approach to grow employment. With young people, this means providing opportunities not only to work, but also to gain skills such as empathy, team-working, time-keeping and public speaking – behaviours that employers tell us they value particularly highly. These skills are transferable and highly adaptable, giving young people an edge in the long-term as they negotiate increasingly fast-moving labour markets where a job for life is a thing of the past.
In the UK, Ingeus Youth Services have achieved exactly this for over 60,000 16 and 17 year-olds through the National Citizen Service (NCS), a government-backed programme that enables young people to get involved in residential outdoor activities, skills-building workshops and community projects. In order to genuinely embed empowering young people at the core of NCS, we used customer insight, employing two 17 year-olds to develop the programme and actively recruit NCS graduates to help deliver it. We believe this approach has made a positive difference - 92% of young people completing NCS say it has helped them develop useful skills for the future. One NCS graduate who has now joined as a mentor, said:
“For young people, it’s probably the first time in their lives that they are given the power to create change and be independent… I’ve learned the importance of individuality, recognising that you’re in charge to make your own decisions; and empathy, standing in another person’s shoes and seeing their outlook on life.”
In addition to building skills, helping local communities, and gaining a CV-boosting achievement endorsed by university application organisations such as UCAS, our future aim is to use NCS as a springboard into Apprenticeships and training programmes, putting young people on the firmer track to lasting employment.