Katie Cavanna: It is all of our responsibility to combat youth unemployment

Great memories of taking groups to Grenville House in Brixham

Great memories of taking groups to Grenville House in Brixham - Credit: Archant

Back in 2010, I worked as an employability tutor with young people who were neither in education, employment or training (NEETs).

For a variety of reasons, these young people were unable to access opportunities. Whether it was a lack of confidence, skills or qualifications, these young people had found themselves within a system that they needed to get out of.

One of my favourite memories from that time, was taking one of the groups to Grenville House in Brixham.

Working outside of their comfort zones; through facing fears, being part of a team, trying new things – it changed them.

Seeing their faces, beaming with pride, as they had achieved what they didn't think was possible, was beautiful.

Working with these fantastic young people, watching them grow and achieve was incredibly powerful.

Many have gone on to gain life-changing opportunities and I feel a sense of pride for everything they have achieved. It's truly wonderful bumping into them, ten years on, and finding out what they have been doing.

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In June, assessing the impact of Covid-19, a report by the IFS, found that employees aged under 25 are about two-and-a-half times as likely to work in a sector that is now shut down as other employees.

The threat of a 'lost generation' for some is quite real and what we do know is that there are significant consequences.

Experiencing unemployment in youth can lead to emotional problems and can also reduce a person's life-long earning/career potential, it creates further inequalities particularly between communities, and the financial costs of supporting unemployment; welfare and medical support reach into billions.

Then consider the cost to business and to the prosperity of the UK, imagine trying to recruit from a large pool of applicants with little or no work experience, where will the next generation of leaders and innovators come from?

To compete in the ever-changing world economy we need to have a bright, educated and skilled workforce.

Can youth unemployment be fixed?

Already there are thousands of brilliant youth engagement activities and initiatives happening across the UK one in four employers are very engaged with youth activities from talking in schools through to taking on apprentices and employing graduates.

But there is more that can be done.

We must increase employer support and reduce employment legislation that creates a barrier for employers to work with young people.

Let's help employers to recognise the value of skills and behaviours as well as academic criteria and ensure education prioritises employability skills and careers learning for young people as well as quality academia.

South Devon College and many FE providers are needed now - more than ever before.

Within our communities, these beacons of hope and opportunity will empower both young people and employers as we embark upon a time of uncertainty and change.

We need employability and job opportunities to be at the top of local and national agendas.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak's summer statement outlined a £2 billion scheme designed to boost the economy through the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis by creating jobs for young people.

A 'kickstart scheme' hoped by the Treasury to create hundreds of thousands of jobs will be unveiled for 16-to-24 year olds claiming Universal Credit and at risk of long-term employment.

Government funding would cover 100 per cent of the minimum wage for 25 hours a week across Great Britain, with bosses able to top up wages.

At RE4orm, we are putting plans in place to not only support young people through a collaborative approach with other providers, but to also give opportunities to work as part of the team.

It is all of our responsibility to combat youth unemployment. Without their contribution our economy will suffer.

But this isn't a one-sided argument – it is mutually advantageous to get involved in helping to reduce youth unemployment.