The British Youth Council’s UK Young Ambassadors have conducted an investigation into the challenges for young people trying to secure high-quality jobs. The year-long extensive consultation has found that young people continue to face challenges when trying to access employment.
The report, which was co-funded by the European Union, is published following a series of events, focus groups and a survey. As part of the investigation, the ambassadors looked at the future of work, how education prepares people for the world of work, the social protection that young people need, ensuring jobs for those with additional needs and the role of work experience in accessing the labour market. The group make a series of recommendations to combat what many young people stated was a ‘sense of hopelessness’.
Megan Doherty, UK Youth Ambassador for Northern Ireland said, “Young people face a multitude of issues when they attempt to access the labour market in the UK. If we want to address these issues we must take meaningful steps to combat the concerns young people have highlighted.
“It cannot be right that any young person feels hopeless when thinking about their future career and I hope we’re able to use this report to drive change for our generation of young workers.”
Sarah Staples, Chair, British Youth Council the organisation that runs the programme said: “The work we’ve been doing to platform young people’s voice in Europe remains an important part of ensuring young people have a say in all the decision making.
“Young people across the UK are about to face a very challenging time in the labour market and I’m glad we’ve been able to highlight some of the existing inequalities which will only widen if they’re not combatted as part of our COVID-19 recovery plan.”
Coming to the end of my role as UK Young Ambassador for EU Youth Dialogue, I have begun to reflect on journey. EU Youth Dialogue allows young people to interact with policy makers at an European level. The 7th Cycle of EU Youth Dialogue had three main themes. These were based on three EU youth goals – 1) Quality Employment for All, 2) Quality Youth Work for All and 3) Opportunities for Rural Youth. As UK Young Ambassadors we designed a nation-wide consultation that engaged 530 young people.
As a unit, my team of UK Young Ambassadors were given a voice to represent UK youth on an international stage. This meant we learnt to become strong communicators. We used our national consultation to be informed of the views of young people in the UK. This enabled us to communicate their views when delivering presentations and when networking. Delivering a national consultation on opposing themes did present us with challenges. We found that young people struggled to complete such a long survey. This put more pressure to ensure that focus groups and other dialogue events were encapsulating the evidence we needed for the report. Fortunately, when it came to data evaluation, we started to see themes pop out.
One of the main results from our consultation was the challenges surrounding the Future of Work. Young people across the UK were concerned about accessing quality jobs, as they believed it was difficult to prepare for a labour market that is constantly reshaping.
One of the core concerns is the availability to high quality access to the Internet, which is eerily poignant in the rise of remote working due to Coronavirus. Young people believed that certain groups were inherently disadvantaged if they did not have access to good quality Internet. They identified issues with recruitment being exclusively online – as this means those without stable Internet access are unable to apply. This year has saw a huge digital transfer of both the job market and jobs themselves. Young people now need Internet access, not as a commodity, but an essential for employment.
Additionally, young people highlighted the barriers they faced living in rural areas. They expressed issues from a lack of amenities. These included poor public transport, poor access to health, education and leisure facilities and high-quality broadband. Young people worried that they had to move in order to access education or secure quality employment. However, they wished to remain in their current areas and support local businesses.
Another outcome from the consultation was the need for Quality Youth Work. In the UK, youth work is often seen as a voluntary role. Our findings recognised the need for youth work to be seen as a profession. The standard of youth work could be raised with investment in youth worker qualifications that recognise the profession. The aim is that official youth worker qualifications will create a more sustainable strategy for youth work across the UK.
Overall, this paints a picture of a myriad of challenges that UK young people face. However, the outcome of the consultation was not gloomy. While young people highlighted their difficulties, they also presented solutions. They even felt communities themselves could be an effective tool for change that would provide short term solutions that addressed and adapted to local needs.
As an out-going UK Young Ambassador, I have been lucky to secure a role with Future Leaders Network as the Co-Chair of the Y7 2021 Taskforce. I will be leading a team of young people to deliver the G7 Youth Summit in the UK next year. I hope to use my networks and connections to further promote solutions to the challenges raised in our consultation.
For other young people out there, I would say become a champion for your concerns. Feel empowered to become a catalyst for change in your area. Reach out to leaders in your community and tell them about the challenges in your area. Write to your MPs, MSPs, MLAs, MSs – inform them about your needs as a young person. Provide leaders with evidence (such as this report) or any that you have gathered. You can even organise your own EU Youth Goal workshops in schools, colleges or youth clubs. Young people should lead the way as change-makers, not only in their local community, but internationally too.
In November Lucia and I travelled to Amiens in France to represent the British Youth Council at the Council of Members Extraordinary Meeting (COMEM). It was an opportunity to come together with all the members of the European Youth Forum to discuss policy and campaigns.
On Thursday evening, Lucia went to the announcement of the European Youth Capital for 2022 which President Macron gave a speech. The ceremony takes place every year in the previous European Youth Capital, and the event is always a spectacle. After some moving performance pieces including poetry, acrobatics and dance, each Youth Capital finalist was invited to show their application video and give a short speech about their city. The winner was announced as Tirana, Albania – congratulations!
We then spent most of Friday and Saturday debating the European Youth Forum’s Strategic Plan and the policy documents which outline the European Youth Forum’s position on areas from “The Future of Work” to “Gender Equality”. The documents aim to strengthen and enhance the work done in specific areas of youth policy and spots areas that need to be focused on. By working on amendments for each document, we were able to have a say on issues important to the British Youth Council and the values we stand for. We also got to speak with the European Youth Forum’s board members about their campaigns and some of the areas they are focused on. We were really pleased to be able to vote on the admission of organisations to the European Youth Forum either in full or observer member status. The successful organisations were: The National Youth Council of Turkey (GoFor), Youth Express Network (Y-E-N) and the European Confederation of Independent Trade Unions Youth (CESI-Youth).
As this was my first trip abroad as a UK Young Ambassador, I spent a lot of time getting to know all the other representatives from around Europe and trying to gain a better understanding of how the European Youth Forum works as an organisation and as a group of young campaigners.
One of the highlights was Friday evening- we managed to get some free tickets to watch Amiens play an ice hockey match which they won 4-2!
The 2nd EU youth conference of the trio presidency of Romania, Finland and Croatia was held in Helsinki, the capital of Finland over the course of the 1st– 3rd of July. Hosted jointly between the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, the theme of the conference was how we can create opportunities for youth and how youth work meets the needs and expectations of young people all over Europe.
Throughout the course of the conference delegates, including myself, heard lectures from intellectuals and senior youth workers on how youth work can be reformed and the different approaches that countries across the continent use in doing youth work in their countries as well as about how training for youth workers can be developed, focused on practical work with young people and using case studies more effectively in doing young.
As part of the conference, as it tied in with the 6th Cycle of the EU youth dialogue, there were forums for youth delegate to engage in dialogues with decision makers, such as (at the time) Finland’s Minister for Science and Culture, Annika Saarikko (who opened the conference with a speech about the part that young people have to play in the future of Europe), the EU commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics as well as academics in the field of Youth work such as Dr Marco Kovacic from the Zagreb institute for social research, Dr Tomi Kiilakoski from the Finnish Youth Research Society and Dr Howard Williamson from the University of South Wales.
In order to take a wider approach to the theme of the conference, delegates were split into groups each focusing on a different aspect of how youth work meets the expectations and needs of young people and how it can create opportunities for youth. I, myself, was in the group that focused on accessibility in youth work, we focused on how we can make inclusive physical spaces for youth work to take place in and how we can use inclusive communication in youth work as well as how you work provisions and services can be accessed. The four other groups focused on Sustainability in youth work, Multicultural youth work, (focusing on how to create inclusive societies in youth work and how we can promote cultural diversity) Digitalisation and young people (as well how it can tie in with youth work) and the Future of youth work and the employability of young people.
As part of this, delegates took part in field visits to local Finnish institutions linked to the themes that each group were focusing on, my group were visited by young representatives of the Finnish Federation of the Visually Impaired as well as Aseman Lapset ry and the other group visited groups tied in with their topics, these groups were Sustainability in youth work- Kumpula School Garden, Luonto Liitto ry- The Finnish Nature League and Changemaker; Multicultural Youth Work- The Non-Toxic Project, Dancemaker Academy and Sámi Siida ry; Digitalisation and Young People- The Finnish Media Education Society, Verke- Centre of Expertise for Digital Youth Work and Digitalents and Future of Youth Work- Ohjaamo Helsinki, Kreisiryhmä and Value based Leadership Education
In closing, the EU Youth Conference in Finland was a productive and engaging one, it was refreshing to hear the opinions of different young people from across Europe about different issues that affect them and others across the continent, I’m looking forward to seeing how we build on the recommendations from the conference in Zagreb next March!
You might have heard that on May the 23rd that the UK will be voting for Members of the European Parliament, but aren’t we leaving the European Union? Why should I bother voting when it won’t matter anyway? Isn’t it just a waste of time?
Europe and the EU have always been controversial topics within the UK, and over the past 6-7 years they’ve been a near-constant aspect of debate; from Westminster and our devolved parliaments, to social media and between friends. It has also been divisive: we’ve seen election after referendum show that we as a country are divided, we’ve seen a rise in violent rhetoric and extremist views, and even the tragic murder of Jo Cox, a Member of Parliament, a week before the 2016 referendum.
It’s safe to say that the UK’s relationship with the EU is complicated. However, with Brexit supposedly happening before the 31st of October at least, it still might seem a bit pointless to care about who your MEPs are when we’re on our way out anyway. But that couldn’t be further from the truth!
Here’s 5 reasons why you should vote on May the 23rd:
- Your vote really counts. The UK has 73 MEPs, the joint third highest number for any of the EU’s 28 member states. Whoever you choose to vote for, the upcoming elections give you the chance to really have your voice heard at a Europe-wide level, and the candidates you elect could have a massive impact on the European Parliament for however long we remain in it. The political party of the MEP you vote for also makes sure that your voice matters, as the European Parliament is broken up into “political groups” which each countries’ political parties can affiliate to. These groups can have a massive influence over the parliament, and due to the large number of MEPs the UK has, your decision can really make a difference. Find out more about the EU’s political groups here. The European Youth Forum has created a voter comparator tool that you can further use to compare the priorities of the different groupings.
- Send a message about Brexit. However you felt about the 2016 referendum, the European Parliament’s elections are a great way to show decision-makers how you feel about Brexit and the Government’s approach so far. A clear victory for pro-European or pro-Brexit MEPs would influence the decision the UK parties will make in the coming months. There are a large number of parties and candidates standing for these elections who represent a range of opinions and views. Proud ‘Remainer’ or ‘Brexiteer’? Somewhere in-between? Make your vote count! Find your region’s candidates here.
- It’s fairer for smaller parties. The UK uses a proportional representation system called the “d’Hondt system” for electing its MEPs. This means that there could be a better chance for smaller parties to gain seats than in our general elections! However, some people have also argued that the high number of small parties similar positions on key issues (like Brexit) could fragment the vote. Either way, if you support a political party that doesn’t often get seats in Westminster, your vote could be the deciding factor in whether or not your candidates become MEPs, and your party could potentially have a better shot than in the system we use for general elections. Find out more about the d’Hondt system here.
- This could be your last chance! If the UK really does leave the European Union before October the 31st, this could be your last ever opportunity to vote in an election for the European Parliament. Participating in the elections is a unique opportunity to vote alongside citizens from across 28 countries, electing representatives to a shared parliament with political groups that work hand-in-hand with colleagues from across borders to tackle issues. In a post-Brexit UK this would be an opportunity that future generations – our children, grandchildren, and even younger siblings – might not get: so if you’re eligible to vote, use your right while you still can!
- Speak up as a young person. The European Parliament elections typically have a bad turn-out for young people, and those aged 18-24 typically have the lowest voter registration of any age group (read more here). This means that some people say that young people don’t care about politics, or mark our turn-out down to laziness or a lack of interest in being an active citizen. However, just looking at the recent rise in young people taking a stand – from the Climate Strikes to the demonstrations and marches related to Brexit – it’s clear that they couldn’t be further from the truth. Regardless of Brexit, whether you’ve never voted before or campaign religiously at every election, voting on May the 23rd sends a message that you do care about politics, and you won’t let your voice be ignored. And even if you don’t decide to take part, remember that there’s hundreds of thousands of young people who just aren’t old enough, or aren’t quite eligible, who would jump at the opportunity to vote in something they care about.
Convinced? Thinking about it? Either way, you don’t have long left to register as registration closes on the 7th of May (register to vote here), and if you’re an EU citizen, or hold dual-citizenship, it’s a bit more complicated if you want to vote for MEPs in another country in the EU.
You also might have the chance to meet some of your MEP candidates, or attending hustings or debates, in the run up to May the 23rd! If you want to feel extra prepared for these hustings, check this document here with ideas of questions you can, on advancing youth’s position in societies.
Huw Sherrard is a UK Young Ambassador (Scotland) to the EU Youth Dialogue, the UK Youth Delegate to the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, and a member of the European Youth Card Association’s Youth Panel.
Eddie O’Sullivan, Megan Doherty and I, three of the four UK Young Ambassadors to the EU Youth Dialogue (the successor to the EU Structured Dialogue) have returned from the first European Union Youth Conference in Bucharest, Romania. The conference was focused on the Romanian Presidency’s key priority for young people: the future of work.
Our day arriving was filled with meeting our new colleagues from across Europe – as well as representatives from other countries, International Youth NGOs, and representatives of Youth Departments/Ministries from various governments – as well as having a short walk around the surrounding area in Bucharest.
Then the EUYC itself began! We heard from a range of speakers, from Romanian Ministers, speakers and experts on a number of topics, as well as members of the Romanian Youth Council. We then broke up into our choice of working groups, each one focused on the interaction between each of the 10 other EU Youth Goals (youthgoals.eu) and Youth Goal #7, which was closest to the Romanian Presidency’s focus on “The Future of Work.”
Day 2 of the EUYC saw a panel debate regarding youth employment, a session on promoting cross-sectoral cooperation on improving youth employment, as well as a number of working groups set on the implementation of our ideas for the future of employment. There was also some frank discussions between the youth delegates and those attending about the nature of EUYCs and the EU Youth Dialogue, particularly focusing on the extent to which it actually involved young people, as well as the lack of focus of this trio of presidencies on the actual youth goals themselves. This led to the creation of a series of separate working groups where youth delegates could focus on improving the process in the future.
The final day brought the EUYC to end with another action-packed morning of debate and discussion related to the future of work, beginning with a ‘high-level panel debate’ on the future of work in relation to the European Union, before we led into the conclusions of the conference, and the handover to Finland for their upcoming EUYC in the next few months.
This conference is only the start of our work over the next 18 months, so we hope you’ll keep up to date with your Young Ambassador’s to the EU Youth Dialogue as there will be many chances to get involved!
The British Youth Council has launched a new call for young people to put themselves forward to be the next cohort of UK Young Ambassadors for the European Structured Dialogue. Through this programme young people from across the four nations of the UK can represent the views of their peers to UK and European youth policy makers. UK Young Ambassadors will be in post for 18 months to follow the next cycle of the process, undertaking consultations with young people across the UK and feeding into European policy conferences.
“I’ve got so much out of being a UK Young Ambassador,” said Bronagh Hughes, outgoing UK Young Ambassador on the Structured Dialogue programme. “I’ve had the chance to develop my knowledge of youth policy in both the UK and across Europe, develop skills in consultation and research, as well as having the chance to develop new friendships across Europe. It’s been an absolutely fantastic programme to be involved in and I would really recommend it to anyone who has an interest in youth policy.”
Applications are open now and close on 6th January 2018. Find out more.
Research carried out by the British Youth Council’s UK Young Ambassadors has concluded that young people are dissatisfied with the way education is structured and have offered viewpoints on how it can be improved to reflect the needs of young people. The new report, which launched on Monday 3rd December 2018, also concludes young people feel incredibly unsupported when it comes to applying for jobs.
60% of the young people surveyed identified the need to have individual capacity for development, languages, internet and media literacy, adaptability to different contexts, democratic participation, intercultural dialogue and basic finance skills as very important to have in school curriculums.
The youth-led consultation, which was led by UK Young Ambassadors for Structured Dialogue, was carried out to establish what the needs of young people are in all the different policy aspects of the European Union. UK Young Ambassadors chose the topics which would resonate most with young people living in the UK and the issues they face. The extensive process investigated the following issues:
- What skills young people want to have developed in school, but don’t get the chance to, for their future endeavours?
- What can be further done to support young people in regards to their mental health and wellbeing?
- How to promote and integrate young people in rural areas?
- How to promote better nationally the programmes and services the EU offers for the development of young people?
- What is the best way to achieve equality and inclusion of marginalised groups?
- How can we further progress youth democratic participation?
With EU funding, Erasmus+, the situations in Hungary and Syria, sustainable development, and Brexit on the agenda, it was of little surprise that the recent General Assembly meeting of the European Youth Forum ran over into the night. However, a very late dinner even by Italian standards was a sacrifice worth making to obtain something which in business and politics alike has as yet to be obtained, a continental consensus on at least some aspects of Brexit. This outcome could only be dreamed for as Lucia and I embarked on the task of creating a politically neutral paper outlining young peoples thoughts about Brexit in October 2017, using qualitative methods to create an ironclad representation of the mood of Britains youth.
The meeting itself, which takes place twice a year, was this time in Brussels and had a focus on the future of Europe with extensive discussion devoted to sustainability and what it meant to be European. At the beginning of the weekend, we were split into discussion groups of EU and non-EU countries, which is simpler said than done from a British perspective. In the end, I decided to venture into the unknown and join Russia, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland etc in the aptly chosen ‘London’ conference room for the non-EU discussion, whereas Lucia joined in with the EU discussions next door. We all agreed that we must protect our planet, democracy and human rights, however I felt some unease in the proposition that programmes should be created to imbue children and young people with a greater sense of European identity. I couldn’t help exchanging ‘European’ with educating young people to be ‘British’ or ‘Scottish’, which in both cases could foster nationalism and a concept of exceptionalism. Really, as a rule we should always treat with extreme caution attempts by those in a position of power should educate young people on how to think politically. Rather than education to be good Europeans, we should focus on educating young people to be good human beings and think critically for themselves.
Before we got to our paper on Brexit, we discussed and voted on a few other quite necessary policy papers which proved considerably more controversial than our own. Weighing in at 56 pages the paper on the next multi-annual financial framework, essentially our ideas for the future budget of the EU, was passed with a commitment to Erasmusx10 and a focus on funding youth organisations. After this came a document on sustainable development which included fiery language concerning private ownership, wage labour, nationalisation, and broken democracy which sought to create a ‘new economy’ to transform the world and change our greedy ways. Certainly, it probably pushed the boundaries of remaining politically and ideologically neutral quite far beyond what would be expected in the UK and elsewhere, and as a result efforts were made to create more friendly language which in most cases succeeded. What concerned me most though were points demanding the education of children and young people in the ‘new economy’ (ending of private ownership, abolition of wage labour etc.) in schools and youth groups, which is as ludicrous an idea as it is dangerous. All in all though the vast majority of this paper had good intentions and sought to improve our relationship with the environment and each other which should always be championed.
Finally, after 3 days of workshops and discussions, already several hours behind schedule, it was time for the Brexit paper to be put before the meeting. Essentially this paper, roughly covers the issues of discrimination, environment, northern Ireland border, an overview of the economy, erasmus+, free movement and our future role in withdrawal negotiations. However, representing young people across the UK both remainers and leavers we kept this paper with feet firmly planted in a space which the vast majority, if not nearly everyone, could agree with. As such, it includes demands such as remaining part of the Erasmus programme, or at very least match the funding it offers, maintain all environmental legislation currently in force or even enhance it, take greater steps to mitigate hate in the aftermath of the referendum, and to place continued peace as the top priority in the resolution of the northern Irish border dispute. But the most crucial point of all, hammered home time and time again in this paper, is that these concerns cannot be filled away and ignored but be listened to and acted upon by our government, and the EU governments, negotiation teams. This strikes at the heart of the reason for this paper being created, chiefly to amplify our voice beyond the saturated lobbying zone of London and across the channel to London where the action really is. However, without the anchorage of the youth forum in Brussels with its networks and expertise, we might as well be shouting it out from the cliffs of Dover. It is for this reason that I am delighted to report, after the controversy of the previous discussions, we were given from Iceland to Azerbaijan, Malta to Finland, a 100% approval for this paper to be taken forward as a motion of support opening the doors for many more exciting things to come both here in the UK and in the rest of Europe. Nevertheless, expectations for what this paper can achieve must be realistic, it is not a manifesto in which we foresee its objectives being ticked off one by one but rather a mission statement. We are young, but we can put forward our views with head as well as heart. If you speak to us, you may well find a new perspective that reinvigorates discussion and ideas, with our presence alone a stark reminder of the damaging repercussions every decision made could have for generations to come.
From the 6-8th April, Ewan and I were in Utrecht to attend the BICC meeting (Benelux, Islands, Central Cooperation) which held the theme of refugees.
Arriving in Utrecht, we were ready to meet the other National Youth Councils and begin the sessions. Led expertly by Coco Peet and Max van de Braggen, with help from other members of the NYC it was a professional and well thought out sessions that were treated with incredible respect and dignity.
What we found particularly moving were the talks given by refugees that have moved to Amsterdam, who gave insight into their experiences of moving from a country that wasn’t safe to their new country. Not assimilation but integration. From the discussions arose an interesting point, that whilst the children of refugee families are in school and can access help with language and mental health, the parents are often left forgotten at home with little connection to the outside world. Perhaps access to resources such as language can be looked at, in order to allow adult refugees to learn and feel a greater sense of stability.
We also met to discuss and analyse the result of our National dialogue sessions, where each NYC discussed with migrants of their own country the challenges and experiences they face in everyday life. We received feedback on the answers we gave and discussed the outcomes of the dialogue, and how opinions of migration differed in each country. The provision of help and the attitudes towards refugees differed from country to country and it was beneficial to hear these stories from the perspective of a migrant.
We also worked on two policy papers, giving our opinions to then be turned into amendments for consideration at the Council of Members meeting. The papers were 2020 MFF and a paper on Sustainable Development. Both meetings resulted in diverse and thorough questions to emerge, which will be put forward as amendments later this month.
Finally, we looked at the methods we could use in our own countries to increase help given to migrants and refugees. We split the challenges that most commonly arose from the national dialogue sessions into different categories and then each NYC contributed to the lists with their country’s policy in mind. This allows us to take actionable steps to improve our services for migrants and refugees in our respective countries.
This was an incredibly moving and insightful meeting, that I have taken many new ideas and opinions from. Hopefully, moving forward, we can make Britain a more welcoming and open place for all.
UKYA for the European Youth Forum