Government officials alongside leading figures from the world of business, education and policy are among those giving evidence to the Youth Select Committee on 6 and 13 July as part of an inquiry into barriers to work experience.
The inquiry comes at a time when more than half a million young people are unemployed, and with a recent YouGov poll highlighting that 58 per cent of all 11-18 year olds cite a lack of work experience as a barrier to future employment.
Parliament’s annual Youth Select Committee gives young people the opportunity to scrutinise and hold inquiries into topics of importance to them. Following a call for written evidence, the 2018 Youth Select Committee will be hearing from a range of witnesses on 6 and 13 July inside one of the House of Commons Committee Rooms, usually used by MPs.
The eleven committee members are aged 11-18 and include Members of the UK Youth Parliament, Youth Councillors, a Young Mayor and representatives from each of the devolved nations.
Claudia Quinn, 17, 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 are 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: “The Youth Select Committee have an extraordinary ability to tackle the biggest issues affecting young people head on. Finding good quality work experience is a real challenge for a lot of youngsters across the country, so it is promising to see the issue being investigated by this year’s committee. I look forward to personally meeting the young members and following their enquiry.”
The first evidence session, which will take place during National Democracy Week on Friday 6th July 2018, will be open to the public and broadcast live on Parliament TV. Members of the public are also invited to join the second session on Friday 13th July 2018.
Just like UK Parliament Select Committees, the Youth Select Committee will produce a report and recommendations based on its findings, which will be sent to the Government for a response.
The evidence sessions will be open to the public on a first come, first served basis. Entry is via Portcullis House and it is advisable to allow 30 minutes to pass through security checks.
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’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.
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
The Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, has launched a new report, ‘Life in Likes’, on the impact of social media on the lives of children before they become teenagers. Today’s report reveals many children are approaching a ‘cliff edge’ as they transition from primary to secondary school, with social media becoming much more important in their lives but causing them greater anxiety. The study suggests some children are becoming almost addicted to ‘likes’ as a form of social validation that makes them happy and that many are increasingly anxious about their online image and ‘keeping up appearances’.
The British Youth Council welcome the report and its recommendations which echo the Youth Select Committee report launched in November 2017 on young people and body image. ‘A Body Confident Future’ was published following an inquiry which gathered evidence from a range of witnesses, including charities, young people, academics, social media companies, and health and education professionals.
Anna Rose Barker, Chair of the British Youth Council said: “We welcome the research undertaken by the Children’s Commissioner into the impact of social media on children. Our own research through the Youth Select Committee highlighted that body dissatisfaction is the norm amongst young people in the UK. Social media can have both positive and negative impacts on body image, and whilst social media companies have taken some steps to mitigate the negative effects there is still more that can be done.
“It is good to see that the recommendations outlined in ‘Life in Likes’ reinforce the recommendations from the Youth Select Committee, specifically in calling for increased digital and media literacy within formal education, more support for teachers to understand the impact of social media on well being, and for social media companies to take more responsibility for the content on their platforms. We hope that this reinforces the need for action to protect children and young people.”
The Youth Select Committee report recommendations have been submitted to the Government for response, which is expected within the next few weeks.
The British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee will officially launch its report on body image and the impact it has on the wellbeing of children and young people. Body image was chosen as a topic for the inquiry as an issue which was prioritised by thousands of young people during the 2016 Make Your Mark ballot.
The eleven committee members are aged 13-18 and include Members of the Youth Parliament, Youth Councillors, a Youth Mayor and representatives from each of the devolved nations. Their report, entitled ‘A Body Confident Future’ is being launched as part of Parliament Week, an annual festival which encourages citizens to learn about and engage with the work of the UK Parliament. The launch will be attended by Minister for Women, Anne Milton MP and former Chair of the APPG on Body Image, Jo Swinson MP, as well as the Committee’s expert witnesses.
The Committee’s key recommendations include:
- Government sponsorship of an annual ‘National Body Confidence Week’ which would be supported by all relevant departments.
- Introduction of minimum standards for social media companies in relation to content moderation, to be enforced in the forthcoming digital charter.
- Measures to improve the diversity of advertising campaigns.
- Adequate funding for schools so that pupils are supported in their wider wellbeing, including on issues related to body dissatisfaction.
- Greater focus on body image in online resources aimed at young people, teachers and parents.
Thomas Copeland, 18, Chair of the Youth Select Committee said: “The Youth Select Committee has had the chance to speak to academics, social media giants, Government officials and of course young people themselves about the real impact body image is having on the wellbeing of children and young people.
“We’ve learned that body dissatisfaction is having a detrimental effect on young people today and it is quite clear that there are long-lasting consequences for health, education and wider life outcomes. The Committee is delighted to launch the report and is eagerly anticipating the Government’s response and plan of action.”
Evidence for the Youth Select Committee’s report on body image was gathered in July from a range of expert witnesses, including high-profile bloggers, social media companies, academics, teachers and mental health professionals. Just like UK Parliament Select Committees, the Youth Select Committee heard evidence inside a Committee Room in Parliament, which is normally reserved for MPs, and their report will now be sent to the Government for an official response.
The Youth Select Committee is conducting an inquiry into Body Image and the impact it has on the wellbeing of children and young people. This topical issue was chosen by the Youth Select Committee after almost one million young people voted it as one of the top ten issues in the UK Youth Parliament’s ‘Make Your Mark’ ballot in 2016.
Following its call for written evidence on the topic of Body Image, the Committee heard evidence from experts including bloggers, social media companies and academics on Friday 7 July. On Friday 14 July the Committee will hear further evidence from teachers, mental health professionals, young people and government officials, inside a Committee Room at the Houses of Parliament which is usually used by MPs.
Just like UK Parliament Select Committees, the Youth Select Committee will produce a report based on its findings, which will be sent to the Government for comment. The eleven committee members are aged 13-18 and include Members of the Youth Parliament, Youth Councillors, a Youth Mayor and representatives from each of the devolved nations.
Thomas Copeland, 18, Chair of the Youth Select Committee said: “This year the Youth Select Committee will be examining Body Image. Body Image has become an issue of considerable concern for young people, so it is crucial that they are given a voice on this important subject. We are really looking forward to hearing what young people and professionals highlight as the key areas of potential policy improvement throughout the inquiry.”
Friday 14 July – Grimond Room, Portcullis House
Panel 1: Mental health and education professionals
– Liz Ritchie, Body Image therapist and psychotherapist
– Rosamund McNeil, Head of Education and Equality Policy, National Union of Teachers
– Natasha Devon MBE, Founder, Self-Esteem Team
Panel 2: Young people
– Cameron Wood, Project Leader, Young Person’s Network, Herefordshire
– Susie Williams, NHS Youth Forum
– Kirstie Stage, Member of the UK Youth Parliament for West Wiltshire
Panel 3: Government officials
– Emily Antcliffe, Deputy Director for Mental Health, Department of Health
– Tara Kaufmann, Head of Women’s Engagement and Gender Representation in the Government Equalities Office
The evidence sessions will be open to the public on a first come, first served basis. Entry is via Portcullis House and it is advisable to allow 30 minutes to pass through security checks.
The Committee’s first oral evidence session received coverage from BBC News, ITV New and Channel 5 News. You can see some of the coverage below:
Body appearance professor warns that images posted online are cultivated saying even our friends might take 10 photos before selecting it, then editing it with filters and this causes body confidence issues that is not real life.
Posted by Channel 5 News on Friday, July 7, 2017
The Youth Select Committee has grilled bloggers about body image following a noticeable increase in body confidence issues in the UK.This blogger speaks about the way in which skin colour is perceived.
Posted by ITV News on Friday, July 7, 2017
Last year the Youth Select Committee conducted an inquiry focusing on the topic of Racism and Racial Discrimination. The 2016 Committee took evidence over 4 oral evidence sessions and received written submissions from 67 contributors. Witnesses included teachers, young people, charities, academics, service providers and the Mayor of Bristol. Read last year’s Committee report, which contains a variety of recommendations for Government, and the Government’s response, which offers an answer to each of the Youth Select Committee’s recommendations.
The Government have announced a new pledge to ensure every secondary school in the country will be offering Mental Health First Aid training by 2020. The British Youth Council welcome the Government’s announcement, which follows the Youth Select Committee’s recommendation for mandatory training for teachers on young people’s mental health.
The British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee published its report in November 2015, following an inquiry which gathered evidence from a range of witnesses, including charities, young people, academics, Ministers and health and education professionals. The Committee offered recommendations across three key areas: funding and the state of services, a role for education and awareness, stigma and digital culture.
The Committee were very clear the training should focus on how to respond to a young person who asks about mental health, how to spot problems and where to refer young people when they become concerned.
Jake Pitt, Vice Chair – Campaigns and Communications, British Youth Council said: “This is great news for students across the country! It’s absolutely paramount school teachers are equipped with the correct training to support the mental health and wellbeing of their students.”
Although the Government have taken on a number of the Youth Select Committee’s recommendations the British Youth Council will continue to ensure the Government prioritise young people’s health. The Youth Select Committee investigate a different issue each year and this year they’re examining body image and its effects on young people.