Skills for every young person Contents

Summary of conclusions and recommendations

Chapter 2: Shortages of skills and their impact on young people

1.Skills gaps and shortages are clearly a major driver of youth unemployment and damage labour market productivity. Given this, there is a startling lack of central accountability for collecting and publishing definitive data on them. The future economy will offer a range of opportunities for young people, not least in the digital and green sectors, but the skills shortages it will need to fill are not measured or planned for at a national level. (Paragraph 49)

2.The Government has introduced initiatives for addressing skills mismatches, but many are intentionally short-term and do not address the structural nature of youth unemployment. For example, it is a missed opportunity that Kickstart did not align with the green or digital skills agenda by channelling young people into these sectors. Many of the proposals in the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill are welcome, but it is unlikely that they will achieve the transformation needed in the skills system to help the young workforce and skills system adapt and live up to the Government’s ‘levelling up’ ambitions. (Paragraph 50)

3.The Government must develop a long-term national plan for identifying, measuring and addressing skills mismatches with a focus on anticipating and meeting the needs of emerging and growth sectors such as those of the digital and green economy. It must update and publish this strategy annually. Bodies producing Local Skills Improvement Plans should do the same at the local level and be responsible for securing an adequate local supply of training places for young people. As part of the Government’s plan, it must:

  • Make public the findings of the Skills and Productivity Board and commit to publishing data on skills gaps and shortages on an annual basis;
  • Support the promotion of places available in training courses for those sectors identified as experiencing existing and emerging shortages; and
  • Review the teaching of sustainability, climate change and green technologies as part of the Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy promised in the Net Zero Strategy and recently published in draft, with a view to ensuring that the skills needed to support the development of the green economy are established from an early stage. The commitments set out in the draft strategy are welcome but more concrete measures are needed to ensure skills development in the green economy is properly embedded in the education and training system. (Paragraph 51)

4.Digital skills are crucial to the life chances of young people both now and in future and are constantly changing. It should not be assumed that young people necessarily have ‘digital confidence’ even if they have some digital skills; skills and knowledge vary considerably among young people, as does access to technology. No young person should be left behind, and all should have the opportunity to continue to learn and develop digital skills throughout their lives to ensure they can fulfil their aspirations and be prepared for the workplace of the future in the “science and technology superpower” that the Government is seeking to create. This will require a step change in provision both in educational settings and in wider society. The minimum expectation should be that all students who leave school and college at 18 should have the necessary digital skills to succeed in the modern workplace. (Paragraph 52)

5.The Government must therefore urgently introduce a package of measures to significantly strengthen the teaching of digital skills at all ages and stages. This package should include:

  • Embedding digital skills as a core component of schooling from primary age, both within the national curriculum and within schools that are not bound by it. Digital skills should also be included within Ofsted’s framework for evaluating young people’s readiness for work. No more than two years from now, from the age of 11, all students must study computing as a distinct subject for a minimum duration each week. Provision must then increase in their second and third years of secondary school and continue up to the age of 16. This expectation should be set for all schools, regardless of their adherence to the national curriculum;
  • Digital provision should also be enabled in other parts of the national curriculum, to ensure an all-round development of digital skills, and similar expectations should again be set for schools that are not bound by the national curriculum. The nature of digital skills is, of course, constantly changing and so specifications must be frequently reviewed to take account of this;
  • Including digital skills as an essential component of all accredited teacher training programmes. These programmes must be constantly updated to reflect changing needs. They must also be designed to ensure they help relieve capacity constraints that limit schools’ ability to fulfil expectations in relation to digital skills teaching; and
  • Increasing incentives, including financial incentives such as bursaries and salary uplifts, to identify, recruit and retain more qualified computer science teachers, including encouraging working professionals into teaching. (Paragraph 53)

6.The Government must publish its plans to continue support for closing the digital divide, including a long-term strategy for access to technology and connectivity for the most deprived young people. This should include:

  • A long-term programme to fund free connectivity (data and Wi-Fi) and physical access to technology (laptops and monitors) for young people from the most disadvantaged backgrounds;
  • Plans to make relevant provision to ensure that educational resources and websites are available to all young people regardless of data connectivity or broadband accessibility; and
  • A requirement that all secondary school students have access to a laptop, desktop or tablet and a broadband connection, and that any necessary measures to support this requirement should be introduced as soon as possible. (Paragraph 54)

7.While there is uncertainty around how to properly define and measure skills development, young people, school leaders and employers agree that young people do not have the essential skills needed for work by the time they leave the school gates. The national curriculum does not clearly set out which skills should be prioritised, and how school leaders can best develop them within existing subjects. We are particularly concerned that this may disadvantage young people who do not have access to extracurricular activities. While this lack of skills is a barrier to them securing their first job, it also presents a further concern for the future economy. In an age of technology, these interpersonal, human-level skills will become more highly valued as they are less able to be replicated by advanced technologies. (Paragraph 63)

8.It is essential that the skills expected to be developed from Key Stages 1 to 4 are reflected both in the design of the national curriculum and in the standards set for all schools, including those not required to follow the national curriculum but who are still required to provide a ‘broad and balanced’ curriculum. (Paragraph 64)

9.The Government must undertake a review of the citizenship course in all secondary schools and colleges in England to ascertain whether provision is sufficient to set young people up with the life skills to become active, informed citizens. (Paragraph 65)

10.The Government must more effectively promote avenues for developing skills outside mandatory education, including extracurricular activities and voluntary work. These activities must be accessible to all so that disadvantaged young people do not miss out. (Paragraph 66)

11.We are concerned at the Government’s approach to educational priorities for young people in the context of persistently high youth unemployment. We heard a considerable amount of evidence indicating that, while the national curriculum plays an important role in guaranteeing minimum common provision and rigorous standards, it is too narrowly focused to ensure that it prepares all young people for the modern labour market and the essential, technical and creative skills it requires, in particular for the creative, green and digital sectors. These views were shared by employers and young people alike. (Paragraph 82)

12.The current specifications of the English Baccalaureate and Progress 8 also result in a narrowing of focus which further inhibits skills development: we heard overwhelming evidence that the expectation to teach eight basic academic subjects and to judge schools on this requirement has led to a significant decline in the teaching of creative and technical subjects. (Paragraph 83)

13.As a Committee, we hold differing views on the current composition of the national curriculum but are agreed that some basic reforms are needed as soon as possible that enable the development of a broader range of skills through the education system, without detracting from the core subjects. (Paragraph 84)

14.It is right that core components of the national curriculum such as English, maths and the sciences remain central to the education system and are measured rigorously; we are agreed that computing is an especially important part of this. However, it is clear that providers feel restricted in their flexibility to offer additional subjects that can provide their students with a broad and balanced curriculum. It is inappropriate for providers to be constrained in this way. (Paragraph 85)

15.The Government must therefore reform progress indicators so that schools that wish to focus on courses of practical, technical, cultural, business- and work-related skills alongside the core are able to do so without being downgraded on Government performance measures. This would not involve a removal of any key subjects, but rather a refocusing on those which are essential to a good education, increasing school autonomy beyond this and therefore facilitating the development of a wider range of skills. (Paragraph 86)

16.The Government must similarly recalibrate the compulsory components of the national curriculum, taking into account its capacity to deliver essential skills alongside technical, cultural, creative and professional subjects outside its scope. Skills development and the tackling of skills shortages should be central to curriculum development and associated performance measurements. In each of these cases, the Government must keep requirements under constant review to ensure they are meeting needs for existing and emerging skills. For example, we suggest that schools might use either Progress 8 or a new Progress 5 as an alternative (see figure 15). (Paragraph 87)

17.The rapid transition of the UK economy and the demands this will place on the workforce means there will be a greater need for provision for reskilling and upskilling. Putting initiatives in place to address this need should be seen as a positive endeavour, driven by the aspirations of young people to have fulfilling careers in the jobs of the future, as well as to help address skills gaps and shortages that are already known to exist. (Paragraph 97)

18.The Government must expand the Lifetime Skills Guarantee so that it supports qualifications below level 3, without which some young people may not be able to access the opportunities made available by the Guarantee. The Guarantee must be widened to include a right to a fully funded additional level 3 qualification where a person already has one, in order to take account of the changing needs of the economy. This should form part of a new statutory right for people to be able to upskill and retrain throughout their lives through access to affordable and relevant lifelong learning opportunities. This would give the Lifetime Skills Guarantee real meaning. (Paragraph 98)

19.The Government must also move to alleviate financial and debt burdens on young people taking level 4 and 5 qualifications, especially where these qualifications are helping to address critical skills shortages and boost productivity. This should include reviewing the fee regime for such qualifications and linking any such reassessment to wider assessments of skills shortages discussed earlier. A grant regime for disadvantaged students should also be considered. The Government must also undertake a wider study of barriers to level 4 and 5 take up and how they can be addressed. (Paragraph 99)

20.The Government must extend the period a young person can claim Universal Credit (UC) whilst enrolled in a full-time education or skills programme in order to avoid disincentivising take up of reskilling and upskilling opportunities among young people claiming UC. (Paragraph 100)

21.The Government must extend incentives and support mechanisms to promote a higher level of employer retraining of existing employees. This should include consideration of training tax credits for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and other options to support small businesses with reskilling and retraining. (Paragraph 101)

22.The Government must undertake a fuller review of the decline of workplace training in recent decades, the underlying causes of this, and what steps need to be taken to remedy this, with a particular focus on employer incentives. This should include an assessment of the role of SMEs in retraining and upskilling the workforce, and how their potential can be fully realised. (Paragraph 102)

Chapter 3: Careers guidance and work experience

23.Careers education, information, advice and guidance (CEIAG) must be recognised as a critical component of a young person’s education up to Key Stage 4 and beyond in all schools. Given that career-defining views develop from an early age, beginning CEIAG provision at 16 is too late. The Gatsby Benchmarks are a welcome intervention; they must be rolled out to primary schools and be more effectively embedded in the national curriculum so that all young people learn about the myriad opportunities that are open to them from an early age. This must be supported by more rigorous enforcement of the Baker Clause to ensure parity of esteem for technical and academic routes. School leaders must receive support to help them deliver this change, including by continuing the rollout of Careers Hubs so that young people who do not benefit from personal or familial networks have the same access to information and opportunity as their peers. CEIAG is a fundamental part of education and should be treated as such. (Paragraph 119)

24.The Government must make CEIAG a compulsory element of the curriculum in all schools from Key Stage 1 to 4 alongside religious education, and sex and relationships education, as part of a Career Guidance Guarantee. The Guarantee must ensure that every disadvantaged young person has access to tailored, one-to-one careers guidance. It should be assessed by Ofsted with reference to the Gatsby Benchmarks and how well they are being applied. (Paragraph 120)

25.The Government must issue guidance to the CEC to develop resources to help schools and colleges to deliver CEIAG and ensure that each one is invited to become part of a Careers Hub, to ensure that the burden does not fall disproportionately on school leaders to deliver change. (Paragraph 121)

26.The Government must update Ofsted criteria to withhold awarding an ‘Outstanding’ judgement to any institution failing to adhere to the requirements of the Baker Clause. The Government must also urgently bring forward its consultation on strengthening the Baker Clause. (Paragraph 122)

27.We heard of many positive examples of employer engagement with education providers to help support youth employment. The best of these should be seen as a model for the future, and we applaud the work of the CEC as well as the forthcoming Local Skills Improvement Plans, which offer a real prospect of embedding this sort of engagement across the country on a permanent basis. However, there is more to be done. (Paragraph 123)

28.The Government must update guidance and legislation on employer participation in CEIAG and curriculum design, ensuring clearer advice to employers on how to engage with education providers, and the benefits this may bring. This guidance must include a focus on support for SMEs to engage with education providers’ CEIAG offer such as careers fairs via the CEC and other bodies. (Paragraph 124)

29.The Government must issue guidance that schools and colleges should promote governorship opportunities to local businesspeople with the ambition that all governing bodies should have at least one employer, so that career pathways are central to schools’ focus and understood by school leaders and businesses alike. (Paragraph 125)

30.London Councils recommended that young people should have taken 100 hours of work experience by the age of 16. This could be achieved by allocating one day a term for work experience to all children from ages 11 to 16, tailored or weighted by age as appropriate. Each day comprising seven hours will result in 21 hours per year over five years, totalling 105 hours. (Paragraph 131)

31.We have heard overwhelming evidence that work experience is of great importance in supporting career pathways for young people due to the understanding a young person gains of the skills needed and expected by employers. There are many laudable initiatives for promoting work experience in the education system and among young people in general, but more could be done both on a statutory basis and in relation to wider support to ensure that as many young people as possible have the opportunity to take up work experience during education. While we recognise the challenges for small businesses in offering work experience, medium and large businesses should do more. (Paragraph 135)

32.The Government must revise its view on the value of quality work experience for young people aged 16 and under. It must reintroduce statutory requirements for all students in all schools to do mandatory, high quality work experience between the ages of 14-16 and consult on the allocated time for work experience from Year 7 upwards, bearing in mind the burden to schools and employers. As part of this, it must consult on the feasibility of London Councils’ proposal that young people should have taken 100 hours of work experience by the age of 16. (Paragraph 136)

33.The Government must publish an action plan to tackle barriers to work experience including availability and affordability, for example costs associated with insurance and Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks. This should include an assessment of the challenges faced by schools and employers, particularly SMEs, in offering placements. This plan should consider how the CEC can better coordinate work experience opportunities. (Paragraph 137)

34.The Government must ban unpaid work experience exceeding four weeks to ensure access to work experience (including internships) is equally accessible to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds as it is to their better-connected peers. (Paragraph 138)

35.The Government must keep under review the industrial placement requirement within T Levels, to ensure that employers have the capacity to offer the required hours and that in doing so other work experience opportunities are not marginalised. (Paragraph 139)

Chapter 4: Further education

36.For too long successive Governments have failed to give FE the focus and support it deserves. It needs significant funding reform to ensure that it is brought on par with HE. Funding must be demand-led so that students who wish to study an approved course in an FE institution receive automatic funding, supported by a national tariff. This will enable it to increase capacity to deliver on the Government’s rhetorical ambitions to ‘level up’ technical education. The Government’s ambitions are welcome, but it is impossible to expect more from FE institutions until this funding imbalance is redressed. (Paragraph 160)

37.The Government must devise a new method of funding for FE. Funding should be determined by student demand, and students accessing the Lifetime Skills Guarantee at levels 2 and 3 in approved institutions should attract automatic in-year funding determined by a tariff. This would help to ensure that there is a place in FE for any suitably qualified person who wants one. It would also result in significant additional funding for FE institutions so that they are able to compete with industry to hire high quality, experienced teachers and obtain the latest industry-standard equipment. (Paragraph 161)

38.The Government must support socio-economically disadvantaged learners by increasing flexibility in the Lifelong Loan Entitlement to provide for maintenance support in FE, so that it aligns with HE maintenance grants. The Government must reintroduce Education Maintenance Allowance or alternative maintenance support for FE students from disadvantaged backgrounds to ensure that they are financially able to stay in post-16 education or training. (Paragraph 162)

39.T Levels present an opportunity to develop a high quality technical alternative to A Levels. While we welcome their introduction and the ambition to streamline choices and declutter the qualifications landscape, we are concerned that the prioritisation of these untested qualifications over other valued options, and generally high entrance criteria for T Levels, will result in a lack of options for young people who either cannot or do not wish to take A Levels. (Paragraph 171)

40.The Government must reconsider its decision to defund tried and tested level 3 qualifications like BTECs, Extended Diplomas and AGQs. We support the amendment to the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill requiring a four-year moratorium on defunding these qualifications and urge the Government to reconsider this policy in its entirety. (Paragraph 172)

41.The Government must set out a plan detailing its offer to employers to help them to provide industry placements to ensure that T Levels are a success. It should continue to work with universities who offer STEM subjects to fine tune the T Level course so that they are convinced of its merits and accept it as an entry qualification. (Paragraph 173)

Chapter 5: Apprenticeships

42.While there is a clear need for older, more experienced workers to have access to opportunities to upskill throughout their careers, apprenticeships should be prioritised for young people who are choosing this route as an entry point to the labour market. We must improve the current spread of apprenticeship starts so that provision is better tailored towards young people and those who would benefit most, which will consequently provide better value for the public purse in the longer term. Reform of the apprenticeship levy must take place to achieve this. (Paragraph 202)

43.The Government must require that any employer receiving funding from the apprenticeship levy must spend at least two thirds of that funding on people who begin apprenticeships between levels 2 and 3 before the age of 25. The other third could be spent on older workers and those studying at levels 4 and 5. The Government must explore the feasibility of further measures to encourage employers to hire young people as apprentices by:

  • Refocusing the public sector target on new starters under 25;
  • Introducing a 50% wage grant for apprentices under 25, abolishing the 5% employer co-investment for SMEs when taking on under-25s, and introducing a 10% co-investment rate for all businesses recruiting apprentices over 25;
  • Supporting SMEs by removing the cap on levy transfer;
  • Extending the two-year expiry date for use of funds;
  • Non-financial amendments to the use of levy funds, such as introducing a maximum salary ceiling for levy-funded apprenticeships and removing qualifications at level 6 and above from scope; and
  • Lowering the threshold for paying the apprenticeship levy to actively engage more SMEs in apprenticeships. (Paragraph 203)

44.The Government must extend the provision of apprenticeship incentives beyond January 2022. These incentives should be weighted towards under-25s and must be well publicised. (Paragraph 204)

45.The Government must place a renewed focus on local solutions to challenges of supply and demand and availability of apprenticeships in particular localities. It must work with local and regional authorities to develop initiatives such as local ‘matching’ services between levy and non-levy paying authorities and aligning apprenticeship opportunities with Local Skills Improvement Plans. (Paragraph 205)

46.The Government must also undertake regular reviews of other barriers to take up of apprenticeships. This should include reviewing minimum qualification requirements such as the Grade 4 requirement for GCSE Maths and English. (Paragraph 206)

47.Apprenticeships, like other routes of technical education, suffer from entrenched negative perceptions, biases and stereotypes in comparison to perceptions of the academic route. This is often unjustified given the positive outcomes that apprenticeships and other technical pathways can lead to for young learners. (Paragraph 221)

48.The Government must require all large businesses to publish the number of apprentices they hire and their salaries on an annual basis. This should be supplemented by a national campaign focussed on changing attitudes towards technical routes and apprenticeships, focussed on pay and employment outcomes, and in particular targeting and signposting options for under-represented demographic groups such as those from disadvantaged backgrounds, young women and those from ethnic minority backgrounds. (Paragraph 222)

49.The Government must create a single, UCAS-style application portal for technical education and apprenticeships to equalise and raise awareness of opportunities amongst young people. (Paragraph 223)

Chapter 6: Tackling disadvantage

50.Young people from low income and other disadvantaged backgrounds face a multitude of challenges in our society. Disparities in attainment first appear in their early years and widen throughout their education. They are significantly less likely to go on to higher education and far more likely to become NEET than their peers, even when they have similar qualifications. Disadvantaged young people face barriers to work, including physical and financial barriers, a lack of financial support to purchase the necessities needed to work and study, and a lack of access to digital equipment and data needed not only to work from home when necessary, but to apply for jobs in the first place. While the Government has brought in welcome support mechanisms for these young people, we are concerned that these measures do not go far enough. (Paragraph 239)

51.The Government must ensure that catch-up funding provided to schools following the pandemic is effectively targeted towards schools with a greater proportion of disadvantaged students, who are most likely to have lost out on learning during the pandemic. Effort must be made to ensure those most vulnerable have access to wraparound care to support their health and wellbeing. (Paragraph 240)

52.The Government must update its statutory guidance on Post-16 transport to education and training (2019) to ensure that T Level industry placements are included within the scope of support, so that young people who live in hard-to-reach areas or who have poor transport connections have satisfactory access to work, education and training opportunities. (Paragraph 241)

53.The Government must run a targeted awareness-raising campaign detailing in plain English the support available to help young people to stay in education, particularly focussing on young people studying in institutions and regions with high rates of disadvantage. (Paragraph 242)

54.In addition to the challenges young people with additional needs may face in their everyday lives, they face greater disadvantage in the labour market than their peers without additional needs. While there are a range of mechanisms in place to support young people with additional needs, the Government’s Plan for Jobs included no targeted support for people with disabilities, despite the fact they were disproportionately more likely to be affected than their peers without additional needs. (Paragraph 253)

55.The Government must explore the feasibility of offering incentive payments to employers offering supported internships, to provide parity with apprenticeships. (Paragraph 254)

56.The Government must recruit more Disability Employment Advisors to provide parity with the increase in work coaches, help to meet its target of getting more disabled people into work, and support better awareness of Access to Work. (Paragraph 255)

57.As part of its upcoming consultation on strengthening pathways to employment for disabled people, the Government must consider grant funding for a jobs guarantee for disabled young people—offering six months paid work and training accompanied by wraparound support—for any young person who has SEND and is newly unemployed. (Paragraph 256)

58.The Government must clearly set out how it plans to monitor and publish its progress towards achieving the ambitions set out in the National Disability Strategy. (Paragraph 257)

59.Many young people from ethnic minority backgrounds, particularly those from Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Caribbean and African backgrounds, face a range of challenges accessing the labour market. Despite improvements in the gap in unemployment between ethnic minority groups and their white peers, their success in education is still not being translated into success in the labour market. They are still subject to discrimination on the part of some employers, are over-represented in precarious types of work, are less likely to benefit from the same social networks and professional connections as some of their white peers, and are more likely to have been harder hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, young people from disadvantaged groups in the white community also face challenges that must be considered as part of any strategy to achieve equality. (Paragraph 276)

60.The Government must launch an Education and Workplace Race Equality Strategy as a matter of urgency given the impact that COVID-19 has had on ethnic minority youth. This should focus on removing barriers including through mandating regular collection of data. The strategy should be intersectional given many of the issues concerning race and ethnicity are cross-cutting with socio-economic background, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and migration status. It should also be tailored so that it considers differences between ethnic groups, with specific recommendations for youth from ethnic groups most at risk such as young people from a Black Caribbean, Pakistani or Bangladeshi background, and those from white disadvantaged groups such as those from GRT communities. The proposed Youth Commissioner (see Chapter 7) should have a significant role in the development and implementation of the Education and Workplace Race Equality strategy, which should:

  • Mandate the DWP to carry out an assessment on why the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on ethnic minority youth in relation to unemployment, insecure contracts, and precarious work conditions;
  • Introduce workforce monitoring for large employers, like that successfully introduced to tackle gender discrimination in the workplace, and new legislation to mandate ethnicity pay reporting;
  • Provide guidance to encourage name-blind CV recruitment practices in the private sector to ensure a person’s skills, qualifications and attributes alone are recognised by hiring teams and targeted support programmes that will help ethnic minority youth overcome issues such as a lack of access to networks;
  • Focus on finding and tackling the causes of disparities, especially for at-risk ethnic minority groups in education;
  • Introduce additional academic support such as targeted funding for catch up lessons and extra tutoring in core subjects such as English and Maths as well as more resources to ensure all pupils have good access to digital devices;
  • Launch an investigation into the cause of high exclusion rates for Black Caribbean and GRT pupils, and publish regular, disaggregated data on school exclusions more broadly;
  • Evaluate the potential impact of having more ethnic minority teachers and school governors on exclusion rates of young people from ethnic minority backgrounds; and
  • Launch a database of national mentors as part of the CEC offer, particularly focussing on recruiting mentors from ethnic minority backgrounds as well as—for example—those with SEND and women in sectors commonly thought of as atypical, such as STEM industries. (Paragraph 277)

61.The Government must ensure it publishes Equality Impact Assessments in a timely fashion, alongside the publication of new policy papers and legislation. It should explore whether the Equality Act 2010 could be amended to require a statutory duty on public authorities to produce Impact Assessments and whether guidance can be issued to employers about positive levers they can take under the Equality Act. (Paragraph 278)

62.Young people who have been in care face a range of challenges in their personal lives that may make achieving success in the labour market more difficult to achieve. They are likely to have faced significant disruption to their education and face challenging financial circumstances. They are underrepresented in high tariff HE participation and are disproportionately represented in NEET statistics. While support mechanisms are in place to help them move into work, the Government must consider whether these are working effectively and are properly targeted and fully resourced to address the challenges these vulnerable young people face. (Paragraph 288)

63.The Government must ensure that the needs of young people who have been in care are considered central to the design of policy intended to improve the opportunities for disadvantaged young people in the labour market. There must be specific, targeted support available for these young people to ensure their needs are taken into account. (Paragraph 289)

64.Children and young people in the criminal justice system, many of whom are already disadvantaged in many ways, face several barriers to employment. They have limited access to many of the educational resources available to those outside, and as a result their ability to effectively rebuild their lives and obtain good work is severely hampered. (Paragraph 301)

65.This lack of support for personal and professional development often results in a carousel of release, instability and ultimately reoffending. We received limited evidence on prison education and therefore recommend the Government consider the recommendations of the current House of Commons Education Select Committee’s inquiry into education in prisons, and Ofsted and HMIP’s joint review into prison education. (Paragraph 302)

66.The Government must commit to improving the provision of education and employment support for young people who are in custody or have been engaged with the criminal justice system. This must be a central pillar of Ofsted and HMIP’s upcoming review of prison education. Specific initiatives must include:

  • The Government must adapt the Prison Apprenticeship Pathway to allow for the work experience portion of an apprenticeship to start either while in custody or during release on temporary licence (ROTL). This should also cover traineeships;
  • The Government must ensure digital skills are integrated into learning in custody so that young people in custody are not left behind. It must increase the availability of monitored devices in prisons so that young people can access learning resources; and
  • The Government must commission a pilot to test how the Gatsby Benchmarks and careers guidance could be adapted for those learning while in custody, focussing on independent, tailored advice and guidance. (Paragraph 303)

67.While there is clearly strong positivity around what Youth Hubs could provide, Laura-Jane Rawlings, CEO of Youth Employment UK, told us that even Youth Hubs struggle with the problem of ‘too many cooks’. She called for (Paragraph 310)

68.There is no individual within senior UK government with sole responsibility for youth unemployment. There is a need to better connect the key Government departments on this issue including Work and Pensions; Education; Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy; Digital, Culture, Media and Sport; Levelling Up, Housing and Communities; and HM Treasury, so that young people do not fall through the cracks. If properly resourced, Youth Hubs could streamline the variety of provisions in place for young people and deliver them more effectively. (Paragraph 311)

69.While we understand calls for a minister for youth unemployment, we are concerned that this would not best serve the interests of young people given that the factors influencing youth unemployment are spread across departmental responsibility by their nature. A Governmental reorganisation may only add another artificial divide. An authority that is independent, representative of young people and can challenge the Government in public will be best placed to hold them publicly to account, as was demonstrated by the role played by Sir Kevan Collins. (Paragraph 312)

70.The Government must appoint an independent Young People’s Commissioner for youth aged 16 to 24 with specific reference to youth unemployment, education and skills, including the new Youth Hubs. The purpose of this role should be to interrogate Government policy and be the voice of young people, in a similar role to that of the Children’s Commissioner, whose remit covers those aged 18 and under. At the point of overlap in their proposed remits, between the ages of 16 and 18, the Government must consider how they can work together to ensure the best outcomes for young people undertaking FE or training. (Paragraph 313)

71.The role of Young People’s Commissioner should be designed on similar principles to that of the Children’s Commissioner: the Office of the Commissioner should be established as a non-departmental public body, largely independent from ministers and accountable to the public directly via Parliament, for which the Commissioner should produce an Annual Report. (Paragraph 314)

72.The Department for Education and Department for Work and Pensions should work together on the creation of a consolidated ‘toolkit’ guide for employers on the types of opportunity they can provide for young people, the costs and benefits that they provide, and the pathways they can progress towards. This should include work experience opportunities like traineeships, apprenticeships, T Level industry placements and SWAPs. A version of this guide should be developed in an accessible format for young people. (Paragraph 315)

73.The Government must work with businesses to create an Opportunity Guarantee, offering all young people aged 16 to 24 the guarantee of a job, education or training. This should be extended to every young person, not just those claiming Universal Credit, to ensure that nobody misses out. Youth Hubs could be the primary vehicle to deliver this. (Paragraph 316)

74.Kickstart is a welcome initiative that has supported the provision of opportunities for work experience to thousands of young people, but it is currently due to end in March 2022. It could be improved, expanded and potentially made permanent so that it reaches those who could benefit most from the support it offers. It could also be more clearly aligned with further training opportunities such as traineeships. (Paragraph 325)

75.The Government must extend Kickstart beyond the immediate crisis. Its eligibility should be broadened to include those from disadvantaged backgrounds who are not accessing Universal Credit. When able to do so, it should publish outcomes data broken down by demographic groups, with an emphasis on those with protected characteristics. To fully meet the needs of these groups, the Government must ensure that CEIAG and training support are core components of any placement by linking employers to local organisations and intermediaries who are able to provide one-to-one wraparound support for Kickstart participants who may require more support. (Paragraph 326)

76.The Government must explore whether the removal of the recommended ratio of three employees to one Kickstart participant would enable microbusinesses to access the scheme if there is appetite to do so. The Government must consider a ‘bonus’ incentive provided to the employer if a Kickstart participant goes into a permanent role following their placement. (Paragraph 327)

77.More widely, the Government must also undertake a rigorous assessment of take up of Kickstart places and the barriers to this, so that appropriate lessons are learned and opportunities for the disadvantaged are maximised, regardless of whether the scheme is extended or replaced with a longer-term programme. (Paragraph 328)

78.Brexit has resulted in a loss of access to EU funds that have supported youth unemployment initiatives. The Government has announced new funding streams in place of these EU funds. However, there is no guarantee that they will continue to fund youth unemployment initiatives at the same level, if at all. (Paragraph 333)

79.The Government must ensure that due consideration is given to the potential of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and Community Renewal Fund to continue to deliver finance to programmes that support youth employment, particularly targeting the NEET group, at an equivalent or increased level to that of the European Social Fund. (Paragraph 334)

80.Without high quality data, collected and published on a regular basis, the Government, policymakers and third parties cannot properly assess the impact of its employment interventions on young people from a range of vulnerable groups. This limits understanding of how effective any intervention is at reaching the most in need, and the capacity to which it can be improved. (Paragraph 349)

81.The Government must work with the ONS to improve the quality and quantity of employment data collected on specific groups of young people, in particular those from disadvantaged (such as FSM-eligible) and ethnic minority backgrounds. This data must be published at more regular intervals than is presently the case so that it can be interrogated by policymakers. (Paragraph 350)

82.The Government must take a more uniform approach to publishing detailed data on takeup and outcomes from its employment support schemes. This information should be able to be split by local authority area, demographic group and disadvantage. (Paragraph 351)

83.The Government must, so far as possible, ensure that the destinations of school leavers in the summer they leave school are recorded so that their effectiveness can be better monitored. We recognise, however, that any mandatory requirement in this respect may impose a disproportionate burden on school administration which they may not have the capacity to manage. Instead, the Government must assess how best schools can be supported to achieve the relevant Gatsby benchmark in this area and allocate appropriate resources if necessary. (Paragraph 352)

84.As an interim measure, the Government must take steps to reduce the lag between collection and publication of destination data, publish more data over a longer period of time, and explore the possibility of extending support for schools and FE institutions to access and interpret Longitudinal Educational Outcomes data on the destinations of their students. (Paragraph 353)

85.We heard a range of positive case studies of local and regional initiatives to combat youth unemployment, including positive evidence of the employment and skills initiatives being undertaken by the recently established Mayoral Combined Authorities. We remain concerned at the evidence that there is a lack of local coordination of national funding streams, and of the work of national agencies. It is clear that longer-term solutions to the issue will only be found when they are locally driven and attuned to local needs. The Government must bear this in mind when developing and implementing initiatives to address the challenge. (Paragraph 370)

86.The Government must consider adopting the Local Government Association’s ‘Work Local’ model, by which groups of councils and their local partners would receive funding and support to plan, commission and oversee a joined-up system of employment support at a local level. (Paragraph 371)

87.The Government must ensure that youth employment initiatives such as Kickstart should, as far as possible, be delivered on the basis of local and regional collaboration, to ensure that opportunities are visible and accessible, and that young people have the largest range of opportunities to meet their aspirations. (Paragraph 372)

88.The Government must review the powers and resources devolved to Mayoral Combined Authorities with a view to extending them where appropriate, to ensure they have the capacity they need to support youth employment in their areas. (Paragraph 373)

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