Employability Training Young People

24th October 2013

In our latest ‘insights’ article, we provide a parent perspective on employability and young people:

As a mother/step-mother to five teenagers, I and my husband have experienced a range of issues with helping them to choose a career path that will suit them and it’s not been an easy ride with any of them, bar one who lives in the USA with his mother.

All of our kids have taken radically different paths and for some, this wasn’t achievable until they reached the end of secondary education, as there seems to be very little support at school level compared to when I was a child (a long time ago, yes).

Our kids are now (just the ones that live/have lived with us):

  • Girl of 22 years now a health care assistant in a hospital
  • Girl of 21 years now in the 2nd year of a photography degree
  • Boy of 20 years works in a hotel restaurant
  • Girl of 15 years currently wants to do a law degree (or similar) and join the police force

As you can see, these are very different choices and only the 15-year-old has a clear idea of what she wants to do, compared to the others at the same age. Even so, last year she wanted to be a writer and the year before that an actress, so anything could still happen.

The point of telling you all of this is that it’s given me an accurate perception of how difficult it is these days for young people to make informed choices and implement them. With all three eldest, getting a job has proven to be nigh on impossible at times, and in the part of the UK that we live in (Cornwall), the situation is worse than many areas in the country.

The problems young people face

Today’s society is doing little to help children develop the key skills they need to enter the world of work. What’s more, it’s not just because there’s more emphasis placed on further education; as the statistics show, many young people are not in education, employment or training (NEET).

Whilst the numbers of young people NEETs fell between April and June this year, 168,000 of young people aged 16-18 years still have no direction, career-wise. Add to this the number of those aged 19-24 years (935,000) and that’s a lot of youngsters sitting at home. Skills Minister Matthew Hancock may claim that this number is the lowest it’s been for 13 years, but we all know that these figures can easily be manipulated.

Worse still, a third of young NEETs don’t claim benefits, so are not even in any system that could help them to find work and a career path, as well as teach skills for employability. The job centre I found with my son to be next to useless; whilst I appreciate that this may not be the case country-wide, it was us, as parents that taught him what to do, how to create a CV and target employers in the right way. It was also us that pushed him to look for jobs each week and supply proof of his activities, the local job centre didn’t even check his claims were valid.

Whilst of course this is something that we as parents are happy to do, some aren’t quite so proactive and the apprenticeship that our son spent 6 months on seemed to be more interested in getting money from the government than helping our son get a job.

This advertised apprenticeship was nothing of the kind; it did nothing to teach him the skills he needed for employment and less still to help him to find a job. In my mind it was falsely advertised and gave our son false hope that it would help to get him an inroad into the IT industry (as it was advertised as an IT apprenticeship).

Further to this, for all of the government advertised apprenticeships that he applied for (lots!), he received an answer from not a single one. Disheartening for a 17-year-old to say the least.

Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said:

With GCSE results out today, I am heartened to see the fall in the number of young people not in work, training or education. We are heading in the right direction, but one young person out of work, education or training, is one too many.

That is why we are continuing to work hard to give young people the skills, confidence and experience demanded by employers and universities. Only then can we say we have done everything we can to ensure young people reach their potential and help us compete in the global race.

The forgotten 50%

Young people in the UK on average spend 2.5 years out of work. Yet many people bemoan the influx of EU citizens that arrive and find work quickly, or begin a business. This means that the problem lies firmly within our society and current setup and that we’re failing to teach children and young people the key skills and knowledge that will benefit their future.

A conversation with my 15-year-old daughter reveals that she’s not overly aware of the careers advisor in her school and hasn’t been given an appointment to see one, as she has already set up work experience with the police service. This isn’t good enough. Further discussion reveals that whilst she has been taught in the classroom how to pay bills and how much it would cost to furnish a flat, there has been nothing on careers and employability.

How this all adds up

There is too little career advice at secondary school level given and not enough skills taught that address employability. The job centres need to be set up to address young people as who they are, which isn’t fully-fledged adults. Also needed:

  • Less emphasis on education for those that aren’t academically minded and more on work skills and real apprenticeships
  • Incentives for employers to train young people in all work skills (using LMS training systems? These could also be available in job centres)
  • Well-constructed and available careers advice within schools and youth centres
  • Training that allows a young person to gain a clear idea of how to go about choosing a career path and what they need to achieve this
  • Teaching the necessity of self-discipline and responsibility in order to prepare for work
  • Compulsory voluntary work and training for those out of work

Despite government claims, we are still failing young people when it comes to life skills and career choices and this needs to be addressed proactively. In schools, these should be implemented earlier than year 9/10 and be an important part of the curriculum. Again, using employability training LMSs in schools could be invaluable.

To coin the late Whitney Houston lyric, the children are our future and this means that if we continue to fail them, then the future of the UK’s workforce looks grim indeed.

Learn more

If you’d like to find out more about our Employability for Students e-learning module please call us on’?020 7936 9029


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