9 Sep 16

How to solve a problem like youth unemployment?

Unemployment figures released by the National Office of Statistics reveal that youth unemployment is on the decline. That’s great news but the news doesn’t take away from the fact that youth employment is still not where it needs to be. There is a huge disparity between employment figures for those under 25 years and those above 25. Young people aged 18-25 are six times more likely to be unemployed than those over 25.

One reason this disparity exist is the lack of work experience that young people have. Experience in the world of work is important for many reasons. The obvious one is that anything that can be added to a CV can be very useful in terms of applying for jobs, the more experience an applicant has on their CV, the more likely an employer is to ask them to come for an interview. Another reason is that it gives young people an insight into the world of what and what they can expect.

But how do we help young people gain experience they need to to get into work? At T-Fest 2016, Talent Match London’s first festival, volunteers were asked what they think needs to happen to get more young people into work.

One of the first things young people need to gain work experience is support. Jody Regan, Talent Match London alumni, says “To get more young people into work we need to take a personalised support approach, realise not everybody is the same and some people need different help.”

It’s clear talking from some people at the festival that support can come in a number of different forms. Sam Windett from ERSA suggests “online peer support” as a really good way for young people to talk to each other. “In the day and age of smartphones and online presences, this (online peer-support) may be just the thing that some young people need”, added Sam.

Part of a this support means helping young people not only build their confidence but also their knowledge of the labour market. Kay from Creative Skillset says that young people need to be told about “the different pathways” and that there are so many job roles that they need to “think beyond the obvious”, using the film industry as an example – a director or a producer are obvious job roles to apply for, but there are many more behind the scenes.

While youth unemployment is a complex problem one  thing sticks out to me, young people want to work, but no one is asking them what they need.  If we want to solve a problem like youth unemployment we have to go right to the source and ask young people what THEY need.  You’ll find that there is no one size fits all solution to end youth unemployment, but that if you treat each young person on an individual basis’s you’ll be one individual closer to ending the problem.