Report calls for CEOs to see youth employment as key part of recovery

Oct 21, 2021

  • With youth employment unacceptably high – business leaders call for more CEOs to create work experience opportunities and break cycle of ‘no job, no experience’
  • New research into employment and the youth labour market explores why businesses do or do not engage in youth employability schemes
  • There are concerns about how the end of furlough will further impact U.K. young people and their career prospects.

Disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, young people are still struggling to secure meaningful employment and are set to bear the associated long-term consequences, including lower wages, inferior prospects, and poorer mental health. Large Employers and the Youth Labour Market research* and — a new report commissioned by Movement to Work (MtW) and Youth Futures Foundation, and co-sponsored by Accenture and Sage— reveals the economic and social benefits that can be achieved when UK employers support youth employment programs.

Compiled by IFF, the report shows that by engaging in youth employment programmes, employers can help break the vicious ‘no job – no experience’ cycle that many young people facing disadvantage experience. Alongside the economic and societal benefits, including better job prospects for young people who lack connections, the research shows that there are key business benefits for businesses looking to engage. Employer-led youth employability schemes are a great way to strengthen talent pipelines, harness diverse ideas and skills, and futureproof businesses.

Alongside a snapshot of the corporate youth employability landscape, the research offers advice on how businesses have succeeded in setting up programmes, such as C-suite support for such schemes being a key driver for success. Leaders from major businesses including Accenture, Sage, Tesco, Marks & Spencer, BT, BAE Systems, Barclays, Unilever, Salesforce, and Diageo have joined Movement to Work’s network of employers committed to helping young people overcome barriers to work. Movement to Work, a charity offering free support to employers to set up such programmes, has helped deliver 125,000 work placements to date and is looking for more business leaders to get involved.

Following the end of furlough in September 2021, there are concerns about how this will further impact U.K. young people and their career prospects. The Kickstart scheme – created in response to the pandemic which subsidises job placements for young people on Universal Credit – was due to end in December but has this month been extended by three months to March 2022.

Anna Smee, CEO, Youth Futures Foundation said: “Job vacancies are at an all-time high. Our research shows businesses have recruitment concerns about young people, due to their perceived lack of work readiness and the cost of staff resource to help young people learn on the job. Yet, long-term youth unemployment is at an unacceptable level. We are experiencing a significant skills mismatch that needs to be addressed. The talent pipeline must flow for businesses to operate effectively, and young people should get the support they need to succeed at work and benefit from the economic bounce back. That’s why we’re committing £18.7m to improve the youth employment system.”

Sam Olsen, CEO, Movement to Work said: “This research has proven what we already knew. The moral case for helping young people is really clear, but the business case is stronger with each day – setting up work experience programmes generates a fantastic diverse talent pipeline for an organisation, and there are lots of government-backed schemes like Apprenticeships and Kickstart to help make it cost effective. We understand times are tough, so Movement to Work can help you figure it out and have a really positive impact in the community as a result.”

Simon Eaves, UK & Ireland CEO, Accenture said: “As the UK is at a crucial stage of its post-pandemic journey, there has never been a more important time to tackle youth unemployment. Empowering young people with right opportunities to thrive in their future careers with essential digital skills, mentorship and experience is not just the right thing to do, it will help the country’s recovery. Businesses who invest in our diverse talent across the UK will reap the rewards by building a more inclusive and open culture which in turn creates business value.”

Helen Devanny, Vice President, Sage Foundation said “Diversity of thought is an absolute must for innovative businesses and that is exactly what young people can offer. We have been able to support many young people to knock down the barriers to their first job, helping them gain valuable life and work skills and setting them up for successful careers at Sage and beyond. This year we’re proud to have taken on 36 Apprentices in areas as diverse as Customer Service, Marketing, Sales and Cloud Engineering. Through Sage Foundation we’ve also opened our doors to young people in our home region of the North East via work experience opportunities, offering them valuable insights, guidance and experience in the world of work.”

  • To read the ‘Large Employers and the Youth Labour Market’ report in full please see here.
  • To read the ‘SMEs and the Youth Labour Market’ report in full please see here.
  • To read the ‘Youth Employment Research Summary‘, please see here.
  • To read ‘Young, Inspired and Employed’ a B2B summary of the ‘Large Employers and the Youth Labour Market’ research report please see here
  • To find out more about how Youth Futures Foundation is working with employers, please see here.

* Findings are based on analysis of the largest UK data source on employer engagement in youth employability activities, The Employer Skills Survey 2019 and qualitative interviews with 47 major UK employers.