Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Skills crisis: The Government must do more to help the young become employable

Just as New Labour failed too many of our young people by not ensuring they left school with basic levels of literacy and numeracy, so the Coalition is denying them a second chance to remedy the deficiencies that make them unemployable.
News today that nearly a million 16 to 24 year olds – one in six – are classified as NEETS (Not in Employment, Education, or Training) was deeply disturbing. It illustrates the hollowness of Tony Blair's "education, education, education" pledge.
The year-on-year 18 per cent rise – some 119,000 - in the number of 19 to 24-year-old NEETS in danger of becoming a lost generation was the largest jump since records began to be collected in 2000. I wonder how many of them were caught up in the riots?
“These figures confirm that the Government is not doing enough to support young people,” said Dalia Ben-Galim, an associate director at the Institute for Public Policy Research think-tank.
“While the planned expansion of apprenticeships is welcome, it is clearly not enough and the Government needs to provide more places in Further Education colleges and a job guarantee for every young person out of work for more than a year,” she added.
The degree to which immigration is working to deny British youngsters jobs is clouding the debate.
Survey evidence suggests that employers hire foreign born workers in the expectation they will have the necessary skills for the job and will turn up to work with the right attitude. The prospect of paying them less than an equivalent British worker, they say, isn’t a factor.
The Government can’t do anything about stemming the tide of East European immigrants from the newly acceded EU countries who have a right of entry to our jobs market.
So it’s getting super-tough with non-EU jobseekers, which is almost certain to deny Britain access to a reservoir of skills we can’t find at home, although it will play well with Daily Mail readers.
Finally, looking at the employability of today’s crop of school-leavers, new research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development this week found recruitment demand for school leavers has fallen since last year, while employer appetite for migrant workers has reached a record high.
When asked what skills the Government should focus on improving to encourage more employers to recruit young British people, respondents identified literacy (53%) and numeracy (42%), as well as employability skills, such as good customer service skills (40%) and good communication skills (40%).

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