Young people - work inspiration and postcode lottery

Catch 16-24: Youth Employment Challenge

If you're reading this, the chances are you have a job. And if you're anything like me, you can look back over your career and identify people who helped you get a foot on the ladder – who inspired you and gave you a chance to prove yourself.

Now, research from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills shows that young people in some parts of the country are much more likely to get this kind of inspiration than others.

A survey of over 18,000 employers shows there's a real postcode lottery surrounding the recruitment of young people and how far employers are prepared to go to help young people enter the world of work. We asked about a number of types of activity a business could do to help young people – things like site visits, careers talks, mock interviews, mentoring and so on – and bundled them in what we call "work inspiration". What we found was that opportunities and chances varied significantly from place to place.

We know that employers want candidates with experience: 66% said that experience is a significant or crucial factor in their recruitment. But too few are willing to offer ways in to get experience in the first place, with only 17% of employers across England offering work inspiration in the last 12 months. Young people in Cheshire and Warrington were lucky: around 25% of employers offered work inspiration there. Conversely, only around 11% of business in the Tees Valley offered any form of work inspiration. Worryingly, around one in five employers who don't offer work experience say nothing could convince them to provide it.

Why does this matter? It matters because, despite the fact that employment levels are rising, 40% of the two million people in the UK without a job are aged under 25.

If we are to stop the next generation slipping into a catch-22 situation, we need to make sure work experience and work inspiration are much more prevalent. For more about work inspiration and how young people can work for you, read our reports, Catch 16 – 24 and Not Just Making Tea.

Profile picture for user Moira McKerracher

Moira McKerracher

Moira McKerracher is Deputy Director at the UK Commission for Employment and Skills.

Moira leads the UK Commission’s work on policy insights. She has a particular interest in employer-led initiatives to support youth employment and measures that incentivise greater employer investment in skills.