February 16, 2010 03:00 ET

British Youth Fear for Post-Recession Job Prospects

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Feb. 16, 2010) - Young Britons are worried that the recession will rob them of employment prospects for years to come according to the latest Youth Commission report into young people's employability.

The report, established by independent education foundation Edge's Learner Forum and supported by the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee, reveals the concerns young people have over finding a job. Two thirds (64 per cent) of young people believe that the recession will have a long-term effect on their employability.

And with youth unemployment hitting record highs last year and nearly a million young people still out of work1 58 per cent believe that radical changes need to be made to the education system to improve their employability.

The research, carried out in conjunction with teen community, Habbo Hotel, shows remarkable agreement about the changes that need to be introduced to the current education system to improve their employability with employment skills, careers advice and work experience identified as key. 

The impact of a positive work experience is understood by the nation's youth with nearly half of young people (48 per cent) saying they don't feel that they have had enough work experience to inform their career choice.

But it's not just what you know, worryingly it seems who you know still has a role to play. Two thirds of young people polled (65 per cent) believe that their background will have a major impact on their career opportunities.

Rose Dowling, Director of the Edge Learner Forum who conducted the research, commented:
"We are at a critical stage where, if the employment situation for young people continues, it will be a danger to them and to society. We can't let this happen and need to make sure that this and future generations are prepared for employment and have the many paths to success they deserve. Practical and vocational learning in schools is paramount to this as is gaining real work experience – which is widely recognised by the young people who took part in this report.

"We don't have all the answers though and we need more young people to have their say on education. Being still in or having just left school, they are well placed to inform ministers on the changes that need to be made to ensure everyone leaves the system possessing skills that make them an attractive proposition to potential employers."

Barry Sheerman MP, chair of the Select Committee for Children Schools and Families, commented:

"The report outlines the very real need for jobs to be made available to young people but it also highlights how important it is that young people are prepared for the world of work while they are still at school. There needs to be a three-way conversation – we need to know what employers are looking for, what young people want and how education can implement those changes – and only by doing that will we be able to make sure young people leave the education system with the best possible chance of gaining employment."

The report reveals a discord between school children who are more likely to think school has prepared them to get a job and those who are slightly older and have more experience of trying to find employment. While the majority (85 per cent) of under 17 year olds have faith that their education has helped prepare them for the world of work, this number decreases dramatically to 53 per cent of young people over 17.

The Edge Learner Forum will present the findings of the report at their Employability Summit on Tuesday 16th February. The summit will bring together young people, business (e.g. Rolls Royce, Virgin, Fly Be), and sector skills councils. The event will see all these groups work together on the recommendations of the report:

   1)   Make sure careers advice works for everyone, especially those who are unsure about the future
   2)   Deliver better work experience and provide everyone with many more opportunities to take it
   3)   Change young people's perception that university is the only route to success. We need to champion vocational and applied routes so young people are aware they can be just as successful through them.
   4)   Give much more prominence to employability earlier in education
   5)   Bring young people and employers together on a regular basis so they know what to expect from each other.

Further information including a full copy of the Youth Commission can be found at www.edge.co.uk.

The independent education foundation, Edge is inviting young people as well as parents and the general public to have their say on education at www.edge.co.uk/haveyoursay ahead of this year's general election.

Notes to editors

About the Youth Commission
The Youth Commission was established by the Edge Learner Forum with support from the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee. It acts as a mechanism through which young people can air their views about the education system and work together to bring about the changes they would like to see made. The commission captures the views of over 6,000 13-25 year olds. The research, which included face to face and online questionnaires and workshops with young people, took place from October 2009 to January 2010.

About Edge 
Edge is an independent education foundation. It is dedicated to raising the stature of practical and vocational learning, so that all young people have the opportunity to achieve their potential, and the UK's future workforce is equipped with the skills to be successful in the modern economy. Edge believes that 'learning by doing' is as important as academic learning, and that there are many paths to success. For more information visit www.edge.co.uk

About the Edge Learner Forum
The Edge Learner Forum is a network of 200 young people across England who are passionate advocates for change to the current education system, with a further online community of 3,500 associates The core mission of the Edge Learner Forum is to show that there are many paths to success and to advocate practical and hands-on learning.

About Habbo Hotel (www.habbo.co.uk)
Habbo Hotel is a richly colourful, multi-dimensional virtual world and community for teens. Users join by creating a fully customized online character called a Habbo. From there, they can explore many public hang-outs, participate in a variety of activities, connect with friends, decorate their own rooms, and have fun through creativity and self expression. Currently there are Habbo communities in 31 countries on six continents. To date, 158 million Habbo characters have been created and 16.5 million unique users worldwide visit Habbo each month (source: Quantcast). Habbo Hotel is run by Sulake (www.sulake.com).

1 http://www.dwp.gov.uk/newsroom/press-releases/2010/january-2010/dwp010-10-200110.shtml

Contact Information

  • Band & Brown Communications
    Sarah Davidson or Zoe Penn
    020 7419 6950


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