- Four in 10 young people feel worried about the future of work
- Almost a third of young people feel unprepared for the workplace
- There’s an increasing “skills gap” between skills needed for the jobs available and the workforce’s skills
The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Youth Affairs has concluded its inquiry into youth employment with revealing results: four in ten young people said they feel worried about the future of work. An uncertain landscape, which includes issues such as a complex, rapidly changing workplace, advancements in Artificial Intelligence and a lack of sufficient training programmes, means many young people feel ill equipped to enter the world of work.
A significant ramification of this issue is the toll on young people’s mental health, which can act as a barrier to achieved potential. This issue is particularly acute among young people who are neither in education or employment (NEET). Labour Force Survey (LFS) data from 2021 shows that a quarter of young people who are NEET experience some form of mental health problem, compared with 9% of those in employment.
There are also negative implications for the economy: the Office for National Statistics found that from February to April 2023, the youth unemployment rate was 10.9% – roughly 465,000 unemployed young people aged 16 to 24*. This economic inactivity could cost the United Kingdom a staggering £120 billion by 2030**.
The inquiry also raised concerns in relation to the UK government’s 2030 commitment of 2 million green jobs – which we’re unlikely to attain despite young people’s interest in environmental issues due to a lack of “green workforce”.
It’s clear things need to change, and the latest APPG report outlines an approach for successfully integrating young people into jobs of the future. MPs concluded that a combination of building skills development, “futureproofing” curriculums to reflect modern workplace demands, promoting apprenticeships as viable further educational alternatives to university, offering meaningful work experience for all, better funding youth services and improving access to Care and Mental Health Support (CAMHS) for young people had the opportunity to enrich their development, building back their confidence to explore future ambitions.
Jo Gideon MP, Chair of the APPG for Youth Affairs, said, “The government must improve its responsiveness to change, considering the numerous challenges faced by young people today. The findings of the APPG indicate that these challenges will significantly impact their future careers. Whether it is addressing the skills gap, addressing climate change, increasing youth participation in apprenticeships, or working productively with the increasing use of AI in the workplace, the government needs to act swiftly.
“To adequately prepare our young people for future employment opportunities, it is crucial to engage in long-term planning, align education with emerging trends, and prioritise mental health support. Developing a National Skills Strategy that incorporates skills forecasting can provide more opportunities for young people.”
Tiegan Bingham-Roberts, Trustee of the British Youth Council and Youth Advisor to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Youth Affairs said, “It has been a really rewarding experience to be a Youth Advisor to this important inquiry. Five months ago we set out on a mission to explore the barriers to youth employment, skills gaps across the country, and solutions government could implement to support the workforce of the future.
“I sat inside committee rooms in the Houses of Parliament listening to various organisations answer our calls for evidence, and it was clear how passionate people are about making careers education accessible to all young people. We have presented our findings to political parties of every colour, and I look forward to seeing the outcome of these youth-led policy ideas.”
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Youth Affairs is a joint initiative by the British Youth Council and YMCA England & Wales.
*Office for National Statistics, Labour market overview, UK: June 2023
** Learning and Work Institute, Local Skills Deficits And Spare Capacity, 2019