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LifeSkills created with Barclays calls on Government to improve employability education for young people and transform youth unemployment

Category: Industry News, Employer Focus, Youth, Finance

Improve employability education|transform youth unemployment

Baroness Brady, Chair of the LifeSkills Advisory Council, today launches a new report, Improving Employability in the UK, at an event in Westminster attended by Pamela Nash MP and stakeholders representing business, education and young people. It calls on Government to make three policy changes in order to achieve lasting improvement in the quality of employability education and work experience available to young people so they can fulfil their potential after education. The proposals have been developed in consultation with the LifeSkills Advisory Council and stakeholders representing the voluntary sector, education and business, including the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), the Federation of Small Businesses, the Education and Employers Taskforce and some of the UK’s largest employers, including McDonald’s and ISS.

The LifeSkills policy proposals address the specific barriers identified by young people, business and teachers to gaining the skills young people need to be successful in work. LifeSkills research with SMEs earlier this year* found that young people at entry level lack a range of basic skills. This includes appropriate work behaviour, with almost two in four SMEs (43%) worried about them using their mobile phone while at work or taking too long breaks, and nearly half (41%) worried they lack time management and punctuality skills. The latest LifeSkills Youth Barometer** also found that a quarter (28%) of 14-25 year olds believe their teachers require more support to teach the skills employers look for. This aligns with findings from research conducted by LifeSkills with the ATL*** which found almost eight in ten (78%) teachers believe there isn’t enough space for independent careers guidance in the curriculum.

To improve this, LifeSkills calls for greater emphasis to be placed on helping prepare young people for work by providing the necessary employability skills and an opportunity to gain experience and understanding of the world of employment. It also calls for a quality standard for work ready programmes and employability activity for young people to be established to ensure that teachers are confident in which resources to use when teaching these vital skills. Finally, it includes the recommendation that local co-ordination of employability activity be complemented by additional support for teachers to ensure this is delivered throughout the curriculum. This is supported by teachers with research conducted by LifeSkills and the ATL, finding four in ten (43%) thought the current support for careers education and guidance in the curriculum was weak, very weak or non-existent.

Alongside employability education, young people, teachers and business see work experience as vital to a young person’s success at work. But, action is required to improve the range and quality of placements available. The LifeSkills Youth Barometer found nearly nine in ten (86%) young people who completed a work placement said they had learnt something new in a new field. But, there are significant challenges for a young person in gaining suitable work experience. Almost a third (28%) of young people have been unable to complete a placement in their chosen field with four in ten (40%) stated this was because “there were not enough work opportunities in my local area”.

Baroness Brady, Chair of the LifeSkills Advisory Council, commented: “Since LifeSkills launched in March 2013 with the goal of supporting young people with the transition between school and work, we’ve been committed to open consultation. So with business, young people, education providers and the voluntary sector we identified what action will truly improve the opportunities available to young people. The report Improving Employability in the UK published today makes three clear asks of Government that if delivered will improve employability education and work experience so young people can gain the skills and experience they need to be successful in work. Our latest research shows young people are calling out for quality employability education and work experience. But, too often the support and access to opportunities they need doesn’t exist. This has to change so young people can fulfil their future potential.”

Ashok Vaswani, CEO, Personal and Corporate Banking, Barclays commented: “We have to act so that young people can realise their ambition and be successful in the future. This is why we launched LifeSkills. So far it has helped over 649,000 young people gain employability skills. But more still has to be done which is why we’ve worked with the LifeSkills Advisory Council to develop the report Improving Employability in the UK. It summarises the actions required by Government to improve employability education and work experience for young people. We have to close the glaring gap that exists between what businesses want and the skills young people have.”

Nansi Ellis, Assistant General Secretary for Policy, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) commented: “It is really important that all young people have good quality careers education. Teachers want to provide it, but need more support and resources to do so. ATL supports LifeSkills as a way of encouraging businesses to work more closely with schools and colleges to provide young people with work experience opportunities, as well as information and advice about careers.”

At the launch of the Improving Employability in the UK, Baroness Karren Brady chaired a panel discussion with Ashok Vaswani, CEO, Personal and Corporate Banking at Barclays, Nansi Ellis, Assistant General Secretary of Policy at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers and Pamela Nash, MP. The audience included members of the LifeSkills Advisory Council and stakeholders across business and education.

LifeSkills, created with Barclays, is a free education and work experience programme that aims to connect businesses, education providers and young people to make young people’s transition into work as easy as possible. Endorsed by City and Guilds, LifeSkills has since launch reached over 649,000 young people with over half of all secondary schools registered. Young people can use the LifeSkills website to complete a range of interactive resources to learn everything from how to write a CV through to matching their skills to a career. The more tasks they complete, the more points they can gain to unlock access to work experience opportunities. The curriculum linked programme also provides free, unbranded lessons and workshops for teachers across three modules: people, money and work skills. In addition, teachers can match their pupils to local work experience opportunities. To find out more and register go to barclayslifeskills.com.

Notes to Editors:

* Research undertaken December 2013 amongst total panel of 500 HR decision makers within organisations of 1-250 employees.
**Research undertaken September 2014 amongst total panel of 2,000 14-25 year olds.
*** Research undertaken July 2014 amongst total panel of 350 ATL members.

Policy proposals:
1. Greater emphasis should be placed on helping prepare young people for work by providing the necessary employability skills and an opportunity to gain experience and understanding of the world of employment.
2. A quality standard for work ready programmes and employability activity for young people should be established.
3. Local co-ordination of employability activity should be complemented by additional support for teachers to ensure this is delivered throughout the curriculum

Full list of supporters of Improving Employability in the UK, LifeSkills Policy Proposals 2014
• Association of Teachers and Lecturers
• Barclays
• Business in the Community
• Education and Employer’s Taskforce
• Federation of Small Businesses
• ISS
• McDonalds
• National Careers’ Week
• Plotr
• The Roundhouse
• The Transformation Trust

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