On Monday 5th December 2016, I and other members of the Talent Match London team went to the 2016 Youth Employment Convention. Hosted at 200 Aldgate by the Learning & Work Institute, it was a day to share knowledge and learn more about the future of youth employment. Speakers included Stephen Evans, CEO of the Work and Learning Institute; Jules Pipes, Deputy Mayor of London; Robert Halfon MP, Minister for Apprenticeships and youth representatives from the twenty one Talent Match regions from across the country. Some of these young people also sat on panels throughout the day.

The event started with breakfast and a debate on whether young people are locked out of the  labour market. The debate raised a lot of important topics including the possible barriers young people face getting into employment and the financial costs of looking for work. After opening speeches from  Stephen Evans, Robert Halfon MP and young person Emily Hicks, the first plenary of the day kicked off. The first plenary tackled the future and emerging needs of young job seekers. This included discussions around the role of parents in supporting young people and wherever role models were necessary. The convention also featured breakout sessions, sessions with smaller groups, included one around inclusivity and individual support programmes, with points made about the financial struggles that single parents face and the importance of focusing on an individual.

After lunch, the afternoon kicked off with the second plenary of the day. The topic of this plenary was social mobility and what changes need to be made in the education, skills and employment systems to increase social mobility. Important points around disability and lifelong learning were made in the session. This was followed by more breakout sessions, including a session on making employability support in schools fit for purpose. The session  explored two approaches to employment support for young people in school and gave attendees the opportunity to discuss what they think should be taught in schools.

The last event of the day was a Dragon’s Den challenge in which LEP members from different Talent Match regions pitched what they would do to maximise youth potential and life chances to a youth panel made up of Talent Match participants. This was followed by a closing remark from Stephen Evans, in which he announced the Learning & Work institute’s youth employment pledge. The Learning & Work Institute pledged to advocate for greater youth involvement in the design of services for young people. A youth-led approach to employability is one of Talent Match London’s objectives, so it was great to have the Learning & Work Institute adopt this strategy. In keeping with their promise for greater youth involvement, the Leaning & Work Institute had hosted a planning event for Talent Match participants to have their say on the design of the conference. Closing off the day Jules Pipes, Deputy Mayor outline some of the Mayor’s plans to help boost youth employability in London. It was really encouraging to hear the Deputy Mayor’s commitment to nurturing the capital’s talents.

The main thing I enjoyed about the day was how much I learnt. I learnt a lot about the different Talent Match regions and what they do to get young people into employment. I also learnt more about the barriers (to employment) that young people face. The only thing missing from the convention was a focus on disability – as there didn’t seem to be enough said on the unique challenges and needs of young disabled job seekers.

Overall, the 2016 Youth Employment Convention  was a very educational experience and I will be taking what I learnt and applying it to my work as much as possible.

Written by Lisa Kajue