Figures published in the Economist (16 December 2010), Daily chart: Young and jobless, once again highlight that the recent global financial crisis has hit young people between the ages of 15 to 24 particularly hard, with the differentials between general unemployment and youth unemployment growing steadily.
A report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) explores the key points in more detail. “Rising Youth Unemployment During the Crisis: How to Prevent Negative Long-Term Consequences on a Generation?" ( OECD 2010, Stefano Scarpetta, Anne Sonnet, Thomas Manfredi) outlines the principal concerns about rising unemployment among young people, and the longer term implications of not addressing the issue.
Even before the economic downturn, levels of youth unemployment and exclusion were high in a number of global labour markets. Young people face a number of barriers to gaining and progressing in employment. These include a lack of qualifications and relevant experience; shortage of and limited access to apprenticeships and training programmes; and significantly, the frequent prevalence of temporary over permanent job contracts. The overrepresentation of young people in temporary employment in many European countries means that they are most often the first to fall out of employment during an economic downturn.
The vulnerability of young people during a recession is compounded by the fact that they lack the skills to compete for jobs that are available in a constricted labour market. Early and persistent periods of inactivity in a young person’s working life can further distance them from the labour market and can seriously impede their future career prospects.
Ingeus has considerable experience of working with young people across the globe to overcome the barriers that hinder them from gaining sustainable employment. That experience shows that while young people face a number of common obstacles, the influence of geography and individual needs and circumstances can have a great impact on job placement outcomes.
The Ingeus Communities of Practice, a cross-border network of practitioners, came together in 2010 to discuss their experiences of helping young people closer and into work.
Their main conclusions included:
- high programme activity levels are essential to move young people into training or employment effectively
- developing key skills such as communication and confidence are important, enabling young people to effectively “sell themselves” to employers
- the relationship between the advisor and client is central – building rapport and trust are needed to firstly engage young people and maintain motivation
- shorter courses are more effective as they maintain momentum to keep young people interested
- workshops – encouraging peer-to-peer engagement can enhance the feeling of support in groups
- contact with employers either via work trials or employer events is helpful to break down barriers and prejudices on both sides.
Read more about programmes that support youth employment here.