Not a week goes by without a story about youth employment and young people struggling to access to the jobs market hitting the headlines.
This is a catastrophic state of affairs for our economy. As REC’s Youth Employment Taskforce found, recruiters have a key role to play and can provide relevant careers guidance to young people. Not only do they know what is happening in the labour market and where the jobs are, they know what employers are looking for.
It was for this reason that REC agreed to support Inclusion and AELP’s Youth Employment Convention held at the QE2 centre in London. A host of high profile speakers gave their perspective on the issue – including our very own Tom Hadley.
The event was innovative for two reasons. The first was that it sought to give young people a voice. We were given the chance to engage with a group of exceptionally bright and talented 18 to 24 year olds about the difficulties and barriers they had found in getting work, and what they had done to overcome these barriers. Just as our own Taskforce reported – they highlighted how careers guidance at schools is woefully inadequate and that there are so many places to go to look for jobs and training, it can be confusing. It led me to think – what more can REC as the professional body and our members do to simplify matters?
The second thing that made the event really interesting was that they asked the speakers to come up with viable solutions. Gordon Marsden MP, Shadow Minister for Skills, talked about the importance of a clear progression policy for young people and for every £1 million contracted by government, the supplier should be required to train an apprentice, just as is happening in Crossrail. Tessa Munt MP, who is PPS to Vince Cable, said that if we were to invest more in construction and house building projects, demand for labour would undoubtedly go up. She was also a passionate advocate for face-to-face careers guidance. This was a theme that came up time and again, with a number of employer speakers, from Microsoft, to Barclays, to the NHS, commenting on how important it was that the school curriculum prepares young people for work as much as it does for future study.
All in all, it was clear to see that employers are willing to help and many are already doing their bit where they can. Politicians are ready to receive our thoughts on how policy can best support employers and educators in helping young people into work.
Over the next few months, we are going to be encouraging even more REC members to sign up to REC’s Youth Employment Charter and providing you with the tools you need to become the lifelong career partner to young people in your local areas and sectors.