The British Youth Council is concerned to learn of the reported inequality which has entrenched the UK, affecting the most disadvantaged young people. The youth-led charity called on the Government to take urgent steps to safeguard young people’s future and close the privilege gap.
The comprehensive report, which was released by the Social Mobility Commission, found that students from a disadvantaged background were confronted with institutional and cultural hurdles at university. The lived experience for students from lower socio-economic backgrounds at some universities is often very different and significantly more challenging when compared to those from higher socio-economic backgrounds, the report discovered.
The British Youth Council believe breaking down stereotypes and removing all real, perceived, intentional and unintentional barriers that form obstacles to young people entering and remaining within higher education. We support measures to widen participation and address the under-representation of young people from certain social groups in higher education. The advisory public body, felt universities needed to lead the way in addressing the issue of the divided culture and endeavour to make the student experience comfortable and welcoming for people from all backgrounds.
Government departments have been advised by the Social Mobility Commission to ‘lead the way’ by becoming accredited voluntary living wage employers. They go on to state, the government should embed the Living Wage Foundation’s recommendations for public procurement systems, including assessing the voluntary living wage as part of the new social value framework for procurement. The British Youth Council deem the national living wage an essential route out of poverty for young people. We believe that the national minimum wage and the Government’s National living wage still enshrines age-related discrimination with lower rates for younger workers, and a separate, even lower, rate for apprentices.
The Commission also stated that whilst apprenticeships were lauded as a ladder for opportunity, many young people still didn’t rate apprenticeships and felt they didn’t offer the best opportunity for career progression. Our members believe the Government need to do more to increase the number of young people completing apprenticeships by helping to change attitudes towards the attainment.
Responding to the findings of the report, Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, Chair of the British Youth Council said: “The findings of the Social Mobility Commission’s report tell a sad story for young people growing up in the UK.
“It is clear that universities remain a difficult environment for the most disadvantaged students and more must be done to break down the barriers young people are facing.
“It is also unacceptable that young people continue to miss out on a living wage. The Government should be leading the way, as the Commission suggests, in making sure work is a route out of poverty.
“Furthermore we think the Government need to do even more to increase the number of young people attaining apprenticeships. It is clear not enough is being done to tackle the reasons more young people aren’t taking on the opportunity!”
Last year, the British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee ruled the Government needed to address ‘patchy and inconsistent’ access to work experience. The Committee found that access to good quality work experience has been marked by social, economic and geographic inequalities.