Last month, Youth Employment UK launched their Youth Voice Census with support from The Careers and Enterprise Company and Pearson Education. The leading-edge census will act as an innovative platform for young people aged 16-24 to voice their opinion on a variety of issues from work experience to going to university and everything in-between, allowing them to say how they’re really feeling.
Young people will be able to complete the census confidently knowing that their views will better inform a variety of organisations about the situation and circumstances they and other young people are facing. Youth Employment UK will share the results to better inform policy, provision and resources.
I’m a proud ambassador for Youth Employment UK and I’ve been privileged enough to have been working with the organisation since January 2016. During the last two years, I’ve seen the organisation go from strength to strength, I feel honoured to have been part of a number of projects aiming to help other young people move into employment or start their own businesses. Youth Employment UK are working hard to tackle levels of unemployment across 16 to 24-year olds in the UK and they’re doing so much great work – it’s amazing. The new Youth Voice Census is certainly a further step in the right direction as tackling youth unemployment remains one of the biggest challenges facing the UK’s labour market. Whilst I was going through school and sixth-form, I never had the opportunity to voice my opinion on issues like careers advice, apprenticeships and vocational courses. My school was one of the fortunate few in the Sheffield area to have a dedicated careers adviser, however, I still couldn’t help but feel somewhat forced into remaining in education rather than taking up a vocational option whether that was after my GCSE’s or sixth-form.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m currently studying Business and Enterprise Management at Sheffield Hallam University and I’m loving every minute of it – it’s certainly the perfect course for me, but it was a long road to get to university. In hindsight, A-levels weren’t for me, I put myself through 2-years of A-levels and had to fight so hard to get those top grades whilst I could have chosen to do a vocational BTEC business course and I feel I would have not only scored higher grades this way, I would have enjoyed it so much more too. The new Youth Voice Census launched by Youth Employment UK allows young people like me who have had negative experiences surrounding various elements of education and employment to share their opinion and protect young people making these choices in the future!
By being able to voice their opinion and make it count, I feel young people are likely to have a much more positive mindset when it comes to making similar decisions in their future careers. Your mindset can influence everything you do and if young people feel their opinion is valued, they will feel supported when moving into the next stage of their careers.
Whilst I’ve been working with Youth Employment UK over the last two years, the biggest issue I feel we need to tackle is managing employers’ expectations. They regularly expect young people to be ‘work ready’ and too many companies aren’t prepared to take a risk on a young person who has little experience. Employers need to start putting their hands in their pockets and training young people as they start their careers. I’ve interviewed a variety of young people across the UK who often feel disheartened when they’ve applied for countless jobs, and in some cases, not even received an email from the employer telling them they’ve been unsuccessful – that’s wrong. Important life skills aren’t properly developed in schools, young people are expected to gain these skills from experiences outside of school and that’s why so many aren’t considered ‘ready’ for employment as they just haven’t had the opportunity to excel themselves.
It’s important that careers advice and work experience must become an essential part of the curriculum. My advice to any young person reading this is to complete the Youth Employment UK Youth Voice Census and together change future young lives for the better. If you’re an employer or charity organisation, please help us to spread the word – it’s important that this census makes a difference.