Neets ‘lack skills needed for first jobs’

Neets ‘lack skills needed for first jobs’

BBC |May 22, 2012

By Sean Coughlan BBC News education correspondent
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Too many young people lack the social skills needed to get their first job, says a report on the issue of “Neets”.

The Work Foundation says more than 450,000 Neets – youngsters not in education, employment or training – have never had a regular job.

Report author Paul Sissons says young people can lack the “soft skills” needed for the jobs available to them in the service sector.

He says youngsters need help at “this crucial point of transition”.

First steps

The report from the Work Foundation think tank warns of a long-term problem of Neets – aged between 16 and 24 – who have never successfully made the first steps from education into employment.

It suggests that first jobs are now increasingly unlikely to be in manufacturing – but instead will be in the service sector.

But it warns that too many youngsters in this Neet category lack soft skills – such as “communication, team working and customer service” – to get a start in such jobs.

“We know that if young people haven’t got on to the first rung of the job ladder by 24, they will suffer the consequences for the rest of their lives,” said Shaks Ghosh, chief executive of the Private Equity Foundation, which supports the report.

“Some will never work. That’s why this research is so shocking.

“Many Neet young people face a Catch-22. They don’t have the so-called ‘soft skills’ employers are looking for, but often the only opportunity to learn those skills is on the job,” he said.

The report, Lost in Transition, says that the growing number of Neets reflects a major shift in the labour market in the past decade, which has caused a mismatch between the jobs available and the skills of those who are out of work.

It means that more than half of Neets will never have had any sustained experience of a job.

Approaching a million youngsters are classified as Neet – with updated figures expected to be published this week.

International problem

Dr Sissons says such youngsters need “personalised guidance, workplace mentors and introductions to business networks, as well as work experience which leads to paid employment”.

Earlier this week the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) launched a Skills Strategy to address this problem on an international level.

The OECD has warned about the problems of people in industrialised countries isolated from the labour market by a lack of skills.

Even when there are job vacancies, the OECD has reported problems faced by employers who are unable to find suitably-qualified candidates.

The OECD argues for a more co-ordinated approach between education authorities and employers to prepare people for the skills likely to be needed in the future.

Neet blackspots in Great Britain (Northern Ireland not shown as it was not included in the study)

Work experience ‘needs more than parent networking’

Work experience ‘needs more than parent networking’

BBC |April 19, 2012

By Sean Coughlan BBC News education correspondent
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The quality of teenagers’ work experience is strongly linked to future careers but must rely on more than just their parents’ connections, a heads and employers report says.

It calls for the potential of work experience to be better used to broaden pupils’ horizons.

Head teachers’ leader Brian Lightman says he has seen young people “transformed” by good work experience.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling says placements have a“significant impact”

The report from the Education and Employers Taskforce and Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and with a foreword by Mr Lightman, says work experience makes a big difference to the career paths of young people.

As such it argues that this importance needs to be reflected in a more systematic approach, which does not rely on the networking skills of parents and friends.

Unfair advantage

The report, Work Experience – Impact and Delivery, Insights from the Evidence, says that a better organised work experience system would deliver much better outcomes.

“The problem is that half of placements are found by young people or by their families using largely existing social networks,” says the report.

As such, it warns that the potential value of work experience in raising expectations and improving social mobility can be“wasted”.

The importance of work experience has risen in a tight jobs market – with worries that it can be used as a way of giving an unfair advantage to well connected families.

Those arguing for an improved system say they want to make sure work experience opens new doors rather than reinforces old divisions.

The report says that work experience which relies on informal networks is not “equitably accessed”.

For example, it questions how children growing up in workless families are going to gain work experience, if it depends on family links with workplaces.

Job boost

Good work experience helps young people understand the jobs market and reduces the risk of youngsters becoming so-called“Neets” – not in education, employment or training, it adds.

It also helps young people improve their applications and chances of getting a place in university.

The report also claims that more than two-thirds of head teachers said pupils were more motivated when they returned from work experience.

But it warns that changes to work experience entitlement mean that many schools are considering moving away from organising work experience for some teenagers.

“Traditionally at this time of year more than 500,000 15 year olds are returning from their Easter holidays planning to do a two-week, summer-term placement with an employer,” said Nick Chambers, director of the Education and Employers Taskforce.

“However, work experience is undergoing major change, perhaps the most significant for a generation.

“These changes are being driven by the government encouraging work experience for older pupils aged 16-19, repealing the statutory requirement to work-related learning at Key Stage 4 [14 to 16 year olds] and schools now having to bear the full costs of organising it.”

Brian Lightman, head of the Association of School and College Leaders, said work experience could have a very positive impact on young people.

“However, this does not always happen automatically. Effective work experience placements need proper planning and need to be matched to the needs of students.”

Employment Minister Chris Grayling also emphasised the value of work experience for future job chances.

“I strongly support the concept of work experience because of the significant impact it can have on job prospects for young people through giving them an insight into the world of work, together with practical skills and knowledge based in a real world environment,” said Mr Grayling.

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