UPDATE - Read our 2020-21 Impact Report Find out more...

Invest in young people and we shall reap the rewards – Fraser Taylor

Posted on 30 November 2021

Young people in Scotland have been disproportionally impacted by Covid-19. This includes increased mental health or wellbeing concerns, increased loneliness and isolation and lack of access to support services and activities. Added to this, young people have borne the brunt of the jobs crisis that has arisen during the past 18 months.      

Sectors predominantly staffed by younger workers, such as the arts and entertainment industries, as well as the food services and accommodation are top of the list for jobs lost in Scotland. And across all sectors, they were often the first to lose their jobs. ONS figures for 2020-21 showed 436,000 people under 25 lost their jobs across the UK – representing 54% of job losses.  

For many young people, training, development, and work experience opportunities also curtailed during lockdown. Rates of participation in job-related training dropped the most for those aged 16 to 24.  

The pandemic has affected investment in training, and this has emphasised pre-pandemic issues of inequality and declining employer investment for skills. Now more than ever, skills investment, a commitment to providing work and training opportunities from employers, the third sector and the government is critical to ‘building back better’ and reducing inequalities in access to learning and development. 

To build a truly inclusive workforce, young people that were already furthest from the labour market before the pandemic need to be at the heart of support that closes the inequalities gap across work, training and education.  

We’ve made a commitment to address both the skills and job crisis facing young people in Scotland. Venture Trust has joined the Young Person’s Guarantee and we urge you to do the same. The guarantee is a commitment to bring employers, partners and young people together. It aims to connect every 16 to 24 year old in Scotland to the opportunity of a job, apprenticeship, further or higher education, training programme or volunteering. 

To truly achieve its aims, the guarantee needs to encompass a diverse range of employers, trainers, educators but also those organisations delivering learning and development for young people that are a step removed from moving directly into a job, training or study. 

More than 90% of the young people we support are unemployed when they engage with our programmes. They face significant barriers to getting into work including mental health issues 63%, criminal convictions 49%, substance related conditions 41%, and homeless or at risk of homelessness 32%. Often these issues are a result of a young person experiencing poverty, trauma and adversity in childhood. It is only possible to get a young person facing these barriers into the workforce by first supporting them to build the resilience, confidence and motivation to overcome or work through the challenges. Then they can build life skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, communication, creativity, and leadership. Skills needed to move forward and reach their potential. 

Our role as part of the Young Person’s Guarantee is meeting the development and training needs of a group of young people left on the margins. Offering services and support – often with partner organisations – to develop and unlock life and employability skills for those who need it most. And we are aiming to offer employment opportunities within the organisation for some of the young people we work with through the Kickstart Scheme. We’re excited about what we can learn from the young people and how they will add value to our workforce and contribute to the sector. 

The Scottish think tank – Our Scottish Future – last month published a report saying drastic action was needed to stop as many as 70,000 young people in Scotland becoming unemployed. Employers, support services, training and education providers must come together to guarantee all young people in Scotland have a bright and prosperous future, so no one is left behind.  

Fraser Taylor, Employability Manager    

This article was first published in The Scotsman on 28th October 2021:
www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/columnists/kickstart-the-future-for-our-young-people-fraser-taylor-3434586

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