The Youth Select Committee formally announces a new inquiry into barriers to work experience. The Committee is calling for evidence from a wide range of witnesses, including businesses and charities, as well as young people who have been directly affected by these barriers.
The announcement comes shortly after a YouGov poll reveals over two-thirds of young people (71 per cent) are expecting it to be tougher to find a job in 2030 with 58 per cent of all 11-18 year olds citing a lack of work experience as a barrier.
Research from the House of Commons library has given even greater cause for concern, as recent data shows over half a million young people are unemployed – excluding those in full-time education.
Now in its seventh year, the Youth Select Committee is a British Youth Council initiative, supported by the House of Commons. The eleven committee members are aged 11-18 and include Members of the UK Youth Parliament, Youth Councillors, representatives from each of the devolved nations. Access to work experience was voted one of the top issues affecting young people in last year’s Make Your Mark ballot – the largest annual consultation of young people in the UK.
This year, the committee will look at issues including:
- What does good quality work experience look like? What do young people and businesses expect to get from it?
- How important is good quality work experience to successful industrial strategy?
- What evidence is there that work experience boosts social mobility?
Claudia Quinn, Chair of the Youth Select Committee said: “The Youth Select Committee will investigate the barriers young people face when accessing work experience. Work experience has become a growing concern for young people seeking to enter the workplace. We’re looking forward to ensuring we hear a variety of voices on this issue so we can make strong recommendations to the Government.”
Rt. Hon John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons said: “I have always admired the ability of the Youth Select Committee to identify and raise awareness about the issues affecting young people across the country. This year’s Youth Select Committee is no different, launching an inquiry into the very real problem of barriers to work experience. I look forward to reading their report.”
The Youth Select Committee call for evidence closes on Monday 18th June 2018 and the Committee will hold oral evidence sessions in the House of Commons in July.
Last year the Youth Select Committee conducted an inquiry focusing on body image. The 2017 Committee concluded body dissatisfaction was causing long-lasting consequences for young people. Earlier this year the Government published it’s official response to the Youth Select Committee stating ‘body dissatisfaction’ was an issue of enormous concern to young people.
The British Youth Council and Votes at 16 Coalition have joined forces with the FairVote Campaign to support the renewed attempt to introduce a lowering vote age. The latest attempt to introduce voting for 16 and 17 year olds has been spearheaded by Peter Kyle MP who is championing the Representation of the People Bill.
The bill, which has been sponsored by Nicky Morgan MP, Caroline Lucus MP and Norman Lamb MP, is expected to have its second reading debate on Friday 11th May 2018. For the first time since 2010, it is thought the Government may no longer have a majority on the issue with Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum speaking out in support of a lower voting age.
Last week the British Youth Council and Votes at Coalition questioned why thousands of 16 and 17 year olds were denied a vote in the elections that took place in England. In Scotland, 16 and 17 year olds have been allowed to vote in the Scottish Parliamentary elections and Scottish Local Council elections since May 2016. The Welsh Government have also announced their intention to introduce a lower voting age in Welsh local election.
Anna Rose Barker, Chair of the British Youth Council said: “Young people have been speaking out in favour of a lower voting age for 19 years. There are no credible arguments against lowering the age now that we allow 16 and 17 year olds the chance to vote in some elections.
“I hope Members of Parliament will see that 16 and 17 year olds can no longer be denied a vote.”
The British Youth Council and Votes at 16 Coalition are calling on the UK Government to make immediate changes to the legislation preventing 16 and 17 year olds the opportunity to vote in elections. The call comes ahead of the local elections which are taking place in England on Thursday 3rd May 2018.
Thousands of 16 and 17 year olds are being denied a vote in the elections taking place in England. Several elections are being held in England, with elections to all 32 London boroughs, 34 metropolitan boroughs, 68 district and borough councils and 17 unitary authorities. Young people will also miss out on the mayoral elections taking place Hackney, Lewisham, Newham, Tower Hamlets, Watford and the combined authority mayoral elections in the Sheffield City Region.
Young people aged 16 and 17 will be denied a vote despite the fact young people in Scotland have been able to take part in Scottish Parliamentary elections and Scottish Local Council elections since May 2016.
Anna Rose Barker, Chair of the British Youth Council said: “It seems unjust to prevent 16 and 17 year olds the chance to vote in the local elections when their peers in Scotland have had the chance to take part in the Scottish Parliamentary elections and Scottish Local Council elections since May 2016.
“This year we’ve been marking 100 years since the first women were allowed to vote. We call on the Government to lead the way on democratic engagement by lowering the voting age and allowing the first 16 year olds the chance to vote. It is time for the Government to listen to the voices of young people.”
The British Youth Council have been campaigning for a lower voting age for the last 19 years. Support within Parliament has increased in recent years, with Members of Parliament and Peers from across the political spectrum indicating their support both in public and private.
Recent analysis by political commentators suggests the Government may no longer have a majority within the House of Commons. Members of Parliament are due to debate the issue on Friday 11th May 2018 on the green benches of the Commons.
Following recent publicity on the votes at 16 issue MPs have established an All-Party Parliamentary Group to help develop the case for lowering the voting age. The APPG comprises of MPs from across the political spectrum, who will meet to hear evidence from young people, youth organisations and other experts, and use this knowledge to approach the Government for a change in the voting age.
It doesn’t’ seem too long ago that we had the commons debate in Parliament on votes at 16. Unfortunately, Jim McMahon’s Private Member’s Bill wasn’t moved to a vote.
But despite our frustrations on the day, it is clear that a fire has been well and truly lit under the votes at 16 issue. It can’t and won’t be ignored.
The fight is far from won though. There remain many critics of young people’s capacity and aptitude to vote.
So there is more work to be done by MPs and the votes at 16 coalition, and the APPG give us an opportunity to build on the campaign.
The APPG is chaired by Danielle Rowley, who is Labour’s youngest MP and was herself involved in the Youth Parliament. She, therefore, has a real passion for votes at 16 and is honoured to chair the APPG.
Danielle Rowley MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Votes at 16, said: “16 and 17 year olds contribute so much to our society, and are very often politically informed and engaged. So much of their lives are affected by Parliament yet they can’t vote for who represents them. This APPG will bring together supportive voices from across the House to make the compelling case for votes at 16”.
On Monday 16th April 2018, Anna Barker, Chair of the British Youth Council addressed His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales, Damian Hinds, Secretary of State and delegates of the Commonwealth Youth Forum.
“Welcome everyone from all corners of the Commonwealth to London and welcome to the start of an unforgettable few days for us all!
“As mentioned, I am Chair of The British Youth Council and I am thrilled to be speaking at the opening of the Forum and to welcome you to this fantastic event.
“We’ve already had some fantastic speakers to kick of the next couple of days, and I don’t know about any of you but I am already excited. Before I start can I just get a good picture of who we are…
“Put your hand up if it’s your first time to the UK? First time to London? Have you set goals for what you want to achieve for your time here? For the young people you represent in your country, is mental health an issue? Is engaging with voting and the democratic process an issue? Is access to youth services beyond formal education important?
“That’s really interesting to see and immediately I can see that there are some cross-cutting themes for young people across the Commonwealth by using the top issues for young people in the UK as a simple benchmark. As a British young person, I can say I’ve had a wealth of opportunities, a fantastic education and have benefited from the open democracy that enabled progress. However, there is, as always, still more to be done! Young people here in the UK are passionate about improving mental health services and fighting the stigma, having the chance to vote in local and national elections at the age of 16, and for youth services to be strengthened to relieve pressure from schools and families and to ensure young people have holistic support and a wider access to opportunities.
“Around 17 years after The Commonwealth of Nations was formed, the British Youth Council was born. Since then we have been committed to empowering young people to make a difference in their lives and the society around them. Which is very similar to the values of this Forum. We will be focusing on impact, voice and sustainability throughout the next few years as a charity which mirrors the essence and themes for this year’s CHOGM – Prosperity, Security, Sustainability, and Fairness.
“So, to finish I would like to leave you with some sound advice to get you thinking about how you want the next few days to go, and what better person to turn to than my mum. Just like you, I work hard to represent young people and with that, we go along to meetings, conferences and even to media calls etc. Perhaps just like your friends and families aren’t quite sure what it all entails… Either way, she has 3 key pieces of advice:
“LISTEN – really truly listen to one another, build an understanding, empathy and common friendship. The relationships you build here could truly change your life and others around you. Ensure that you are actively listening to the speakers, your colleagues, the words that are spoken and importantly those that are not. This will give you the stimulus for ideas and conversations that could spark something incredible.
“BE AWKWARD – something Brits are very capable and experienced in… Look to your neighbour you are sat next to. Have you said hello yet? Have you chatted with someone you don’t know at all this morning? Put yourself out there, sit next to someone on their own at lunch, smile at someone in the next session, put up your hand to ask a question you might think to be ‘silly’. If we stretch our comfort to break out of our comfort zones, and I know this is awkward, we can meet new people and share brilliant thoughts and ideas.
“FUN! – Even though we are growing up, we should never stop having fun. Yes, of course, we should all set goals, have aspirations and work hard these few days. But do this with joy and light! Ensure that today and the days that follow, the weeks, months and years that follow beyond that are filled with passion, enjoyment, and meaning. Because then and only then can we bring others along this journey for a better world with us.
“Our theme is ‘Powering our Common Future’. Well… we are the Power, we are the Future and we are the Now. Let’s grab this opportunity with both hands and showcase the irreplaceable strength of young people across the Commonwealth and make it impossible for people to deny us a voice in shaping the future of our community.
“I wish you the most magical and meaningful experience during your stay here and I am thrilled and honoured to speak to such an inspiring group of international leaders. Thank you and have fun!”
This week young people from across the UK will attend the Commonwealth Youth Forum as part of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) taking place in London. Young people in attendance will discuss the solutions for a fairer, more secure, sustainable and prosperous future.
47 young representatives will gather with young people from across the Commonwealth to build cross-cultural connections and networks, debate the challenges facing its young people, and agree on youth-led initiatives to influence decision makers and ensure young people have a voice in its future. During the Forum, young people will have the opportunity to current global challenges and opportunities that face young people in the Commonwealth and provide policy recommendations to help solve these issues.
Thrinayani Ramakrishnan, UK Young Ambassador to the Commonwealth who will attend as an official UK delegate said: “I’m really looking forward to joining delegates from across the Commonwealth to learn, develop ideas and share experiences.
“It’s imperative young people are involved in shaping the future of the Commonwealth.”
The three-day event has been organised by the UK Government and Commonwealth Secretariat with the support of the British Youth Council as the national youth council of the UK. The event is due to be opened by Anna Barker, Chair of the British Youth Council who will be joined by Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP, Secretary of State for Education, Kishiva Ambigathy, Chair of the Commonwealth Youth Council and Jayathma Wickramanayake, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.
Anna Barker, Chair of the British Youth Council said: “I’m really looking forward to welcoming young people from across the Commonwealth to the Commonwealth Youth Forum. It’s absolutely right that young people are at the heart of shaping the future of the Commonwealth.”
The British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee has received an official response from the Government about their report on body image and the impact it has on the well-being of children and young people. The Government have stated body dissatisfaction is an issue of enormous concern to young people and their parents.
The comprehensive response from the Government Equalities Office comes following the committee’s inquiry, which concluded body dissatisfaction was causing long-lasting consequences for young people. In the response, the Government acknowledges the gaps which remain in its understanding of the many complex factors that contribute towards body dissatisfaction, including the specific challenges faced by young men, LGBT+ community, ethnic minorities, and those with disabilities or serious illnesses.
The response, which offers an answer to each of the Youth Select Committee’s recommendations, makes a commitment to further understand body image in specific groups as part of their broader endeavour to better understand the causes and impact of body dissatisfaction.
In November, the committee made it clear the Government needed to ensure young people, parents, and teachers knew where to go for support on body image. The Government has since pledged to undertake an audit of available resources.
Thomas Copeland, Chair of the Youth Select Committee, said: “The Youth Select Committee welcomes the Government’s response to the committee’s report ‘A Body Confident Future’.
“We are pleased to see the Government have not only recognised the importance of body image but have also acknowledged gaps in its understanding of the many complex factors that contribute towards body dissatisfaction.
“The Government have made a number of commitments in their response, including a commitment to further understand how body dissatisfaction affects different groups. We look forward to seeing how the Government goes on to ensure their commitments are implemented as soon as possible. Young people’s mental health and well-being must be taken seriously if we are to mitigate the detrimental effects of body dissatisfaction.”
The conclusions of the report has since influenced the launch of a separate inquiry by the Science and Technology Select Committee into the impact of social media and screen-use on young people’s health. In response to the recommendations of the committee, NHS England has also been working with the NHS Youth Forum to raise awareness of body image through a new poster campaign.
Kath Evans, Experience of Care Lead for NHS England said “NHS England is delighted to have worked with the NHS Youth Forum to ensure a poster is developed to raise awareness about body image that can be displayed in a range of different settings as recommended by the Youth Select Committee inquiry.
“Young people themselves know what matters most to them and their peers, vitally they know how to capture the attention of other young people, they have led the way, demonstrating ongoing collaboration to keep improving experiences of care.”
The Youth Select Committee, who were aged 13-18, included Members of the Youth Parliament, Youth Councillors, a Youth Mayor and representatives from each of the devolved nations. This year’s committee will investigate the barriers preventing young people from accessing work experience.
As a part of the lead up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) and the Commonwealth Youth Forum in London, young people from across the UK met the Prime Minister and Lord Ahmad, Minister of State for the Commonwealth, this morning in celebration of Commonwealth Day. The reception, which took place at 10 Downing Street, was hosted by UK Young Ambassador to the Commonwealth, Namir Chowdhury.
During the reception, which was organised by the British Youth Council and the Cabinet Office, the Prime Minister stressed the importance of young people being “at the heart” of the summit. Young people present were able to ask Lord Ahmad a series of questions prior to joining Her Majesty the Queen and other distinguished guests for the Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey. Issues including deepening the relationship with Commonwealth nations, expanding young people’s understanding of the Commonwealth and LGBT+ rights were discussed.
Representatives from Children in Wales, Girlguiding, The Scout Association, UK Youth Parliament, National Union of Students (NUS), Northern Ireland Youth Forum and National Citizen Service were present at the celebration.
Namir Chowdhury, UK Young Ambassador to the Commonwealth said “It has been a pleasure to mark Commonwealth Day alongside the Prime Minister. It really is imperative that we work together to forge a future that is prosperous for young people across the Commonwealth.
“I’m really looking forward to meeting young people from across the nations at the Commonwealth Youth Forum. It will be interesting to hear a wide range of views ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.”
The Commonwealth Youth Forum is held as part of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). This year will be hosted by the UK government, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the British Youth Council as the national youth council of the UK.
The Forum will bring together young people from across the Commonwealth to exchange ideas and share their experiences, build their networks and skills. During the event, delegates will discuss current global challenges and opportunities that face young people in the Commonwealth and provide policy recommendations to help solve these issues.
The British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee will explore the barriers preventing young people from accessing work experience in its next inquiry. The new committee of eleven young people, which is yet to be appointed, will embark on the inquiry later this year. Access to work experience was voted in the top three issues by young people in the Make Your Mark ballot, the largest annual consultation of young people in the UK.
The announcement comes as YouGov’s latest poll reveals over two-thirds of young people (71 per cent) are expecting it to be tougher to find a job in 2030 with 58 per cent of all 11-18 year olds citing a lack of work experience as a barrier.
Anna Rose Barker, Chair of the British Youth Council said “It comes as no surprise to us that young people have declared employment a top concern of theirs. With the uncertainty created by Brexit, a failure to install a real living wage for young people and ongoing concerns about work experience, it is clear that young people need meaningful commitments from decision makers to tackle all of these issues.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what this year’s Youth Select Committee finds during its inquiry, and how the government responds to the recommendations.”
The Committee will set out the key areas for exploration prior to seeking written and oral evidence from the public. Work experience gives young people the opportunity to develop themselves, hobbies and potential career paths. However, young people have said that knowing where to find work experience can be a challenge.
Last year the Youth Select Committee examined body image and the impact it has on the well-being of children and young people. The Committee concluded that body dissatisfaction was causing long-lasting consequences for young people. The Government is due to respond to the committee remark and recommendations soon.
Would you be interested in joining the Youth Select Committee? Apply to join now.
Last week, the Science and Technology Committee launched an inquiry into the impact of social media and screen-use on young people’s health. In November 2017, the British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee also took a stand by launching their report, ‘A Body Confident Future’. Among other things, our inquiry investigated how social media can create and exacerbate a poor body image and has 22 urgent recommendations for Government. I was delighted to see that the Science and Technology Committee mentioned our report, reaffirming to the Youth Select Committee the vital importance of our work. Both of these reports recognise the huge role that social media can have on children as young as eight years old, and how a lack of understanding and education can exert an adverse effect that may last a lifetime.
Across the UK, young people are being overwhelmed by the constant pressures of perfection. Whether that be in education, socially, or with regards to their body, the young people of today are under more pressure than ever. But, what is a ‘perfect body’? Is it the posing glamour models on our screens, is it the celebrities on the ubiquitous perfume and fashion advertising campaigns, or can your average Peter or Jane possess the ‘perfect body’? Exposure to these kinds of images, particularly on social media, has been proven to have serious and long-lasting consequences for today’s youth, and unless we do something about it, the problem is only going to get worse. This is why both the Youth Select Committee and the Science and Technology Committee are taking steps to investigate and combat these issues before another generation slips by.
With the rise of social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram come new challenges that young people aren’t always sufficiently equipped to overcome. The Science and Technology Committee highlights that 95% of UK 15 year olds use social media before or after school, and half of 9–16 year olds used smart-phones on a daily basis. Increasingly, children and young people seek social validation from ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ on pictures of themselves. This trend can irreversibly damage a child’s self-esteem and body confidence as they grow up, and lead to young people adapting their offline behaviour to fit an online image. A lack of regulation has left social media platforms with the autonomy to set their own standards when it comes to the often oversexualised and psychologically pervasive content available for hours on end to even the youngest of users. However, claiming that social media is the bane of all evil is far too simplistic an attitude to take when it comes to forming a narrative about body confidence. Social media may be part of the problem, but as so often is the case, it needs to be an integral part of the solution. The Science and Technology Committee has recognised this, drawing specific attention in its Terms of Reference to the benefits that social media can bring in supporting those suffering from mental ill-health. It is for these reasons that the Youth Select Committee report includes recommendations that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, working with the Government Equalities Office, engages with social media companies to impose industry-wide minimum provisions for the regulation and removal of content from their platforms.
Body image isn’t just about the way we look, it is also about the way we perceive our place in society. It isn’t just about the size of one’s lips or muscles, nor is it solely restricted to one’s sexual attractiveness. Body image can also encompass how we view our gender, our ethnicity, our sexuality, our disabilities and our socio-economic background. The models on our screens, whether we like it or not, are highlighted as having the ideal body in our culture, and if they are continuing to reinforce a body image that is not only unrealistic and homogeneous but is frankly unhealthy, then we must intervene to disrupt this misrepresentation of society. We need greater diversity in the advertising campaigns which bombard our young people on social media every day, whether it is through including models with a disability, of different ethnicities or models who don’t align with what popular culture tells us is the ‘right’ way to look. Without this intervention, we could leave a generation of young people humiliated by their own bodies.
But real, meaningful change cannot be accomplished through simply changing a few models in advertising campaigns, understanding social media better and taking on the impossible task of ensuring no child below the age of thirteen can ever access social media platforms. We don’t expect our young people to know that ‘the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell’, so why is it assumed that they will automatically realise that appearance bears no relevance on our future or our hopes and dreams? If we are to tackle body image problems correctly, education must play a vital part in doing so. We need an awareness of body image issues, as well as the digital and online literacy, must present in every child’s education. The Science and Technology Committee Terms of Reference asks how greater awareness could be raised by key groups such as schools and the Government of the risks that technology and social media pose to young people. The Government’s pending decision to make PSHE (Personal, Social, Health, and Economic education) and RSE (Relationships and Sex Education) compulsory is welcome and would be a step in the right direction towards improving student understanding of body confidence and dealing with the challenges that a 21st Century online life can bring. However, tackling this problem cannot be left to the already over-saturated PSHE and RSE curricula alone. The Government must demonstrate that they are taking the issue of body image and digital literacy seriously by providing extra funding for schools to take a more integrated and wider approach to solving these issues. Furthermore, this cannot be simply a re-allocation of existing funds, as the well-being of our young people should be of paramount importance.
Throughout the sitting of the Youth Select Committee over the past year, we have found that the issue of body image and its causes is one that is scarcely tackled across Whitehall. We expect this to change. By giving body image issues more prominence through ring-fencing funding and providing resources and support for specific groups we feel the Government can create real change for my generation and the young people of tomorrow. Unfortunately, the consequences of poor body confidence can manifest themselves in serious health problems, and a proactive and comprehensive approach from the Health Service is necessary for helping to prevent this. Improvements to government-funded CAHMS resources and support as well as better channels of communication to reach parents and pupils are central to the recommendations of the Youth Select Committee and the importance of parents in protecting our young people is recognized and reinforced by the Science and Technology Committees’ Terms of Reference.
The Youth Select Committee submitted our report in November and we are currently awaiting a response from the Government. This is the time for Whitehall to show that they are committed to supporting and fighting for the well-being of every young person in this country. The report by the Science and Technology Committee will take another step to tackling the new world of social media driven lives and everyone at the Youth Select Committee will supporting it every step of the way.
Changing the way young people see their own physical appearance is no mean feat, and it will take an entire society to change in order to create a generation that doesn’t value themselves on how they look in the mirror. The report by the Youth Select Committee is one small part of the battle to ensure that poor body confidence is recognised as a danger far greater than a trivial preoccupation of the superficial and the vain. As the lives we lead change, so too must the way in which we mitigate against the negative consequences of these new obstacles. Social media is a tool that has the potential to improve our lives, bring people together and create real change. But this is only possible if we can recognise and protect our young people from the very real dangers that social media can pose. The government must take the lead by ensuring that the all-encompassing potential of our youngest generation isn’t destroyed by shame and fear.
— British Youth Council (@bycLIVE) 1 February 2018