In May 2021, the House of Lords Youth Unemployment Committee called for evidence that explores how to help create and protect jobs for young people, and to ensure they are equipped with the education and skills needed in today’s labour market
Catch22 currently delivers 11 different employability programmes, runs 7 colleges for 16-19 year olds and as a government registered training provider, provides a range of apprenticeships for all industries. We work across the UK with individuals and employers to get the right people into the right jobs in the right places. Through our extensive network of local and national partners, we go out into communities to support individuals who face barriers to work.
Challenges facing young people
With youth unemployment levels rising, focus is right on programmes and initiatives that can help young people get into work, and crucially that they are meaningful and sustainable placements. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated many employment problems which already existed for young people:
- Too many short-term or zero-hour contracts
- Very little focus on upskilling and developing a young, motivated workforce
- Traditional early-stage career jobs in retail or hospitality have disappeared overnight
- Huge numbers of young people out of work competing for the same jobs
- Young people are suffering from poor mental health and wellbeing, with little support
- Digital exclusion is a huge barrier: 23% of children in the poorest families don’t have home access to broadband and a laptop, desktop, or tablet, 13 million people lack the digital skills they need for work, and, 11.9 million (22%) of people do not have the skills for everyday life – the ability to manage money online, engage in government services and find a job online.
Challenges for employers
Job search support for young people only works if sufficient new jobs exist and employers feel comfortable and confident to employ young people. More clarity is needed about what is being done to support businesses long-term, and therefore the provision of high-quality sustainable jobs. While there was relief when government schemes were launched, many businesses, especially SMEs are cautious about taking on any new staff due to uncertainty about continued support from the Government.
There is a lack of funding to support disadvantaged groups into the labour market. Before the pandemic there were over £3m people out of work who wanted to work including nearly £1m young people outside full-time education or training. This is needed to enable young people to have the right kinds of skills and wraparound support to succeed in the jobs employers do have available.
Myths persist about the value of apprenticeships. From the many conversations we have with employers, students, parents and employees, it’s clear that some myths around apprenticeships persist. These include the idea that apprenticeships are only available for trades and that there’s little advantage for businesses in taking on an apprentice.
As society and businesses begin to open up, new value must be given to youth employment. As we continue to place young people into some of the most forward-thinking businesses and organisations, we will continue to ask:
- Is this young person able to develop their talent?
- How can we build the social capital of the young person we are working with?
- And how many of these jobs are leading to sustainable long-term careers?
We help individuals who are struggling to find employment, many of whom have been particularly hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. Our aim is to ensure everyone is given the opportunity to find a career that suits their individuality. They receive guidance on future career pathways and the benefits of being back in the workplace. We would therefore like to see solutions that:
- provide quality, sustainable employment
- a vision for a digitally included Britain
- actively include young people in harder to reach communities
- address poor mental health and wellbeing
- ensure all employability programmes provide wraparound support
- mobilise young people so they become active citizens
To tackle the challenges facing employers, we would also advocate that:
- The Government needs to be clear in its intention.
- The Government and employers should work closely with civil society.
- There should be more flexibility and incentives built into the apprenticeship levy.