On Tuesday April 25th, I had the privilege of attending the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Youth Employment meeting at the House of Commons, chaired by Shaun Bailey MP. The event focused on tackling youth unemployment and featured a diverse array of speakers representing local authorities, employers, and stakeholders. These experts shared their insights on developing place-based approaches to address this pressing issue, and offered personal thoughts and experiences that shed light on the challenges young people face when entering the workforce. This event resonated with me as a supporter of the Good Youth Employment Charter, which Methods signed on April 17th, 2023. The Charter focuses on creating good quality opportunities for young people, empowering them with the skills, confidence, and experience they need to thrive in the workforce.
Among the distinguished speakers were Clare Boden-Hatton, Director of Operations for Employment and Skills at the West Midlands Combined Authority; Dr. Fiona Aldridge, Head of Insight, Economic Delivery, Skills and Communities at the West Midlands Combined Authority; Councillor Jon Clarke, Darlington Borough Council; Teresa Firth, Senior Skills Policy Manager, Association of Colleges; and Councillor Gillian Ford, Deputy Chair of the Local Government Association’s City Regions Board. They highlighted the critical issues of youth unemployment and shared their experience in developing place-based approaches to tackle this challenge.
Throughout the meeting various quotes and thoughts from the speakers stressed the importance of providing better career guidance, meaningful work experience opportunities, and collaboration between educational institutions, local governments, employers, and other stakeholders in developing effective strategies to address youth unemployment. Darlington Borough Council’s Councillor Jon Clarke emphasised the importance of not just pushing young people into work, but equipping them with the skills and confidence they need to succeed. The council has set up a Youth Advisory Group to ensure that youth perspectives are considered in policy decisions and initiatives. They have also encouraged local businesses to sign the Good Youth Employment Charter, committing to providing opportunities for young people.
Eddie Playfair, Senior Skills Policy Manager, pointed out the need for better coordination among various stakeholders, including national-level initiatives, local government, employers, and educational institutions, to support vulnerable youth. Dean Giles, Head of Learning & Development at Bourne Leisure Centres, highlighted the challenges faced by young people entering the workforce post-pandemic, such as lack of confidence and difficulty expressing emotions.
Youth Ambassadors Michelle and Laudy shared their personal experiences, drawing attention to the lack of support for young people with exceptional circumstances and the need for more accessible pathways to employment. Their stories underscored the importance of addressing inequity in access to opportunities, especially for those lacking social capital.
It is essential to remember that solving youth unemployment is not just about providing jobs. Employers can play a vital role in partnering with schools and colleges to offer meaningful work experiences to young people. Supporting the mental wellbeing of youth and empowering them in the workplace are equally crucial.
One notable development from the meeting was the announcement of key dates related to the inquiry into youth unemployment. The final deadline for submitting written evidence online is set for 5th May, 17:00. Additionally, I am excited to share that I have been invited back to the House of Commons for the Inquiry Report Launch on 27th June, where a minister will be present to give evidence and receive a copy of the inquiry report.
As a participant in this event and an advocate for youth employment, and Methods’ Early Careers Business Partner, I am eager to continue working on actions aligned with the Good Youth Employment Charter and collaborating with Youth Employment UK on future campaigns. Addressing youth unemployment is a complex and multifaceted challenge, but with the combined efforts of all stakeholders, we can create meaningful change and empower the next generation of workers. By sharing these insights, quotes, and key takeaways, we hope to inspire others to join in the fight against youth unemployment and create a brighter future for our young people.