Even though I am probably officially too old now, I do still tune into Radio 1 from time to time. Yesterday on their news round up, they were talking about a survey they’ve conducted with 50 of the largest employers in the UK regarding youth unemployment.
Almost half of the companies who responded to the survey said that the government needed to do more to train up young job seekers. Most felt that ‘young people were leaving school, college or university without the basic skills they needed to find work, especially in subjects like maths and English’. Nine out of 10 companies also said there needs to be a greater focus on practical, hands-on training in school and college to get more teenagers straight into work.
Firstly I do think it’s good that Radio 1 are exploring an issue that’s clearly affecting its target audience so much, as the latest statistics say that there are around 1 million 16 – 24 year olds unemployed now.
I’m also fascinated with the results of the survey. I mean really, the sample is quite small to draw any concrete conclusions, but the consensus does seem to be that there are literacy and numeracy issues that schools are failing to address, plus a lack of practical skills being taught in schools and colleges to prepare this generation for the workplace. But I can’t help wonder if this is actually the case, or if the companies surveyed simply aren’t hiring – or at least aren’t hiring younger, inexperienced people any more. If times are bad they might be able to get away with paying someone with more experience a lot less? Thereby negating the need for the graduate programme/apprentice route for 16 – 24 year olds entering the jobs market.
I graduated 10 years ago (yikes) from Aston University which is incredibly focused on practical experience and my degree included a one year industrial placement. I know that isn’t the case at every educational institution, but is this now an unacceptable failing of the schools/colleges/universities in this depressed economic environment? Or do the corporates need to accept some kind of responsibility for helping young people into work?
It seems kids are facing a tough road ahead and as someone just starting my own business, I’d like to think I’ll give something back one day with work experience and apprenticeship schemes. But is it now a step too far for companies struggling in these trading conditions? Would love to hear your thoughts on this.