Chapter 8: Voices of young people |
151. This Chapter considers whether young people,
youth groups and their representatives are involved in and consulted
to a satisfactory degree, on the use of EU funding for youth unemployment
projects. We received evidence on this issue from employers, civil
society organisations, politicians and civil servants, as well
as from young people themselves and groups that aim to represent
EU level consultation
152. The evidence we received suggested that
EU institutions do make a concerted effort to consult young people
in the development of their policies. Commissioner Andor said
that he had held two meetings with the Spanish Youth Council to
discuss the difficult youth unemployment situation in Spain. He
also said that the European Youth Forum was a very valuable partner
for the European Commission.
The European Commission pointed out that its Recommendation on
the establishment of a Youth Guarantee clearly called on Member
States to consult young people in the design of schemes, to fulfil
its requirements. He also said that the European Commission had
fine-tuned its proposal for a Quality Framework for Traineeships
to reflect young people's concerns about quality, as highlighted
in a Eurobarometer survey.
153. The European Parliament Youth Intergroup
stated that one of its biggest challenges was how to implement
the feedback from consultations with youth groups into its legislative
work. It sought
to address this by always including a member of the European Youth
Forum in its events,
and one of its priorities was to make sure that youth organisations,
together with civil society organisations, played a role with
governments in developing the Youth Guarantee.
Luca Scarpiello, adviser to the Intergroup, also highlighted the
EU's Structured Dialogue process as an important example of the
EU's engagement with young people.
In December 2013, the Centre for European Studies launched an
internet-based consultation platform for young people to propose
ideas on how Europe could grow. Feedback on how to reduce youth
unemployment featured prominently.
154. The European Youth Forum said that the level
of interaction with the European Commission had been quite good
and that it had given input to the development of the European
Commission's Recommendation for a Youth Guarantee. However, the
European Parliament Youth Intergroup said that the level of endorsement
of its input had only been partial.
The picture at Member State level was also mixed, with some national
youth councils only being consulted by governments on a very "last-minute"
basis. The British
Youth Council, which is the UK's representative in the European
Youth Forum, consulted between 800 and 1,000 young people for
their views on unemployment and submitted them as part of an EU
Business Europe said it was aware that the European Commission
also consulted young people via the Organising Bureau of European
School Student Unions.
155. We welcome the efforts made by the European
Commission to consult young people and their representatives in
the development of EU policies to reduce youth unemployment. We
recommend that the European Commission continues this work into
UK Government consultation
156. We received a mixed response from witnesses
about the consultation of young people in the UK. Some took the
view that young people were generally not consulted on the development
of youth unemployment programmes in the UK
and Prospects said that there was a danger that consultation was
being done in a token fashion.
The British Youth Council said that the Cabinet Office and the
Department for Education did a good job in consulting young people,
but that the Department for Work and Pensions was not as diligent.
It was under the impression that responsibility for youth policy
in the Government was lost between a number of different departments.
157. Matthew Hancock MP, the Minister of State
for Skills and Enterprise said that the UK Government endeavoured
to "listen to the customer" and to take the views of
young people into account when developing policies and programmes.
However, he added the caveat that policy development was a "professionan
occupationand we have to make sure that we have extremely
involved in it".
The Minister of State for Employment said that the UK Government
used pilot schemes to test new ideas and that "they would
have engagement with stakeholders through which people would feed
158. The UK Government have asked LEPs to consult
local partners in developing their strategies, but there is no
requirement for them to consult youth groups in particular. NACUE
disagreed with this policy and highlighted the importance of LEPs
in acting as conduits for young people's ideas. It suggested that
every single LEP should have a student or youth board that helped
guide the development of the LEP's enterprise programmes.
Lord Heseltine said that he would not "single out the unemployed
youth as representatives of the youth in this country" and
cautioned against the mandatory membership of young unemployed
people on the boards of LEPs and similar organisations.
159. DELNI said that it was in an advantageous
position due to the fact that as one government department, its
work cut across quite a number of the issues that many young people
encounter. Consultation of young people was therefore easier.
For example, DELNI designed a young person's version of the consultation
document when designing its Pathways to Success programme. DELNI
also said that it consulted a NEETs strategy forum, a voluntary
organisation with 65 members from different backgrounds, to inform
its policy development.
Buckinghamshire Thames Valley LEP also emphasised that local determination
of programme design and delivery that included young people in
the process was most likely to achieve the greatest involvement
and successful outcomes for young people.
160. We recommend that the UK Government requires
Local Enterprise Partnerships to consult with and involve youth
groups in developing policies that affect young people, such as
measures to address youth unemployment.
Civil society organisations'
161. The TUC and the ETUC acknowledged that their
organisations no longer have the same level of representation
as they once had, but they said that they are making efforts to
engage more young workers in their activities.
The ETUC also argued that in seeking to negotiate better employment
benefits with the UK Government and employers, unions were defending
the rights and interests of unemployed people.
162. Unsurprisingly, organisations representing
young people, such as the NUS and the British Youth Council, gave
strong evidence in favour of involving young people in policy
This was supported by other civil society organisations working
with and delivering services to young unemployed people in the
UK. For example,
Prospects said that involving young people in writing the specifications
when commissioning two large contracts had resulted in a "powerful
piece of work",
while Rathbone said that its senior management team was regularly
held to account on its pledges by a committee of young people.
The Big Lottery Fund, the body that distributes the funds from
the National Lottery to community projects, said that it directly
involved young people as members of the committee that governed
its Talent Match programme and that they jointly made decisions
on applications to the fund alongside other committee members.
It had also compiled examples of good practice from its Young
People's Fund (a collection of programmes that had taken place
across the UK since 2004) on the involvement of young people.
In its evaluation of the Young People's Fund, the Big Lottery
Fund found that its:
"requirement for projects to actively involve
young people in how they were planned and run has led to a change
in culture among youth organisations. It has allowed young people
to shape services that affect them and in doing so it has further
developed valuable skills among participants".
163. We are convinced that the meaningful
consultation of young people in the development and implementation
of programmes to reduce youth unemployment is a necessary component
for success. We believe there is a danger that consultation processes
will lack credibility if those involved cannot see that their
input has been taken into account and made a difference. We therefore
encourage the European Commission and UK Government to enhance
their efforts in this respect and to evaluate and publicise specific
examples of where the involvement of young people has had an influence.
275 Q 191 Back
Max Uebe, European Commission; The Flash Eurobarometer 378 report,
November 2013, The Experience of Traineeships in the EU,
is available via: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/flash/fl_378_en.pdf Back
Q 175 Back
Q 167 Back
Q 168 Back
The Structured Dialogue is a process for discussions between young
people and EU policy-makers about different themes, to make sure
the opinions of young people are taken into account in defining
the EU's youth policies. The themes and topics for discussion
are decided at European level by EU youth ministers. A Committee
of the current trio of EU Presidency countries, the European Commission
and the European Youth Forum is responsible for coordinating the
process and deciding upon sets of questions to ask young people
across Europe twice a year. The EU Council agreed in November
2009 that youth employment should be the overall thematic priority
for European cooperation in the youth field for period January
2010-June 2011. Back
Q 217 Back
Q 209; European Parliament Youth Intergroup. Back
Q 207 Back
Q 128 Back
Q 207 Back
Emma McClarkin MEP; Rathbone; Employment Pathways; Youth Enterprise
and Unemployment; Q 131 Back
Q 133 Back
Q 253 Back
Q 253 Back
Q 136 Back
Q 265 Back
Q 63 Back
Q 68 Back
Buckinghamshire Thames Valley LEP Back
Q 197; Q 213 Back
Q 198 Back
Q 127 Back
Youth Employment UK CIC; Prince's Trust Back
Q 58 Back
Q 59 Back
Big Lottery Fund Back