This report, produced by Impetus-PEF in partnership with the Young Foundation and the Social Research Unit at Dartington (SRU), seeks to provide practical answers to the question: how can we help young people be ready for work? We believe the findings contained here will benefit those who fund, invest in or provide services to improve the employability of young people, including our main concern, young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

In our previous report “Make NEETs History” in 2014, we found that those leaving school with only GCSE-level qualifications (or less) are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as those with better qualifications. Research has shown the life-long negative scarring effect that a sustained period of unemployment can have on a young person’s life. Today’s young people feel the bar to getting a job is higher than ever and face the demoralising prospect of scores of unanswered applications.

Yet a recent study by McKinsey found that around a quarter of employers had left entry-level vacancies unfilled. A third had lost out on business opportunities because they could not find recruits with the right skills. We have a disconnected system which is not equipping young people with the skills, experiences and capabilities they need to be ready for work. Why is this? And what can be done?

In this report we argue that it is crucial to have a shared understanding of the vital capabilities young people need to enter the workforce. There are six capabilities are typically expected of all employees, old and young, but these are rarely communicated clearly and concisely. This report sets out these capabilities and then identifies the programmes proven most successful in helping young people attain them.

Sustained employment for young people will only be achieved through the cultivation of the capabilities employers want. We believe that a joined-up approach between education, business and policymakers will result in young people who are better equipped for work and employers ready to employ them.

Posted on: 30 September 2014

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