Converting Conversations into Actions – “No complacency: No more NEETs”

The 2014 Youth Employment Convention sought to put young people at the heart of next year’s general election. The legacy report, sponsored by Shaw Trust, is comprised of 25 short essays from contributors to the convention, all experts in their field. It describes why youth unemployment remains a systemic issue despite an improving economy and makes the case for policy changes that will support the skills and employment needs of our most valuable national asset – our young people. It is hoped that that the report and the contributor’s recommendations will influence the manifestos of all the major political parties.

The convention sought to tackle a variety of issues including: whether we are any closer to the social mobility we seek; whether policy makers and employers really do have the ambition to address the challenges of youth unemployment and the skills deficit and what a shared responsibility to tackle both looks like and whether it’s achievable. The voice of young people was central to the convention – opening it with a youth debate, closing it with a call to action and contributing throughout the event.

Contributors to the report include: Lord Baker of Dorking, who argues that the “skills mismatch” is holding back economic growth and makes a direct correlation between theUK’s “weak commitment to technical pathways” and our high NEET rates; Dame Tessa Jowell MP, who calls the 25% youth unemployment rate in the capital, a “scar on London”, and argues for a “skills guarantee” ensuring that no young person leaves school without the necessary skills to secure, progress and succeed in work; Stewart Segal of AELP appeals to government to integrate BIS and DWP supported programmes so that a clearer and more effective offer can be made to young people and Mark Fisher of DWP reminds us that even as youth employment rises it is the most disadvantaged young people who will be left behind unless strong and effective partnerships are made that can effect their life chances.

Perhaps the most important contributions though are those of the youth delegates - young people who are experiencing the education, skills and employment system right now. Francis Augusto, Youth Ambassador from Talent Match London, says that “politicians and decision makers should take responsibility for failing a great proportion of young people.”

More must certainly be done and, building on the dynamic conversation over two days at the convention that involved young people, employers, providers of support services, commissioners, policy makers and stakeholders, this legacy report draws together the best of the thinking that came out of the event.

You can read the full report here and further reflections on the conference from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation here.