New call for a triple-lock to secure youth employment

National Youth Agency and Youth Employment UK

Young people who face the biggest barriers to work risk falling between the cracks, without a job or training and with little support.  In a new report, ‘Outside, Looking In’, the National Youth Agency (NYA) and Youth Employment UK call on government to mobilise the youth workforce as part of a rapid response to the scarcity of jobs for young people. This includes a triple-lock commitment for youth work:

  1. Work ready: young people need skills for life and work; this requires more qualified youth workers to identify needs and provide early help before young people enter training or employment.
  2. Opportunity guarantee: young people need help into jobs, with a proactive youth service to remove barriers to work and sustain employment, in particular for disadvantaged and vulnerable young people.
  3. Locked-in support: a youth work approach should be embedded in employment programmes and jobs support. This would include a Youth Premium to access youth work activities and put young people on a surer footing for work and throughout periods of underemployment.

Up to 1 in 9 young people are out of work in the UK, with almost 800,000 16-24 year olds not in education, employment or training. One-quarter of those (196,000) are long-term unemployed     , for 6 months or more. With nearly half a million (460,000) fewer young people in work than a year ago, young people account for approximately 60% of the fall in employment despite only being 1 in 8 of people in work. Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are hardest hit, facing multiple barriers made worse by Covid-19. Lessons must be learned from past mass unemployment which left whole communities scarred, widening inequalities which can still be traced today.

A more radical approach is required to complement employment services and training programmes, to support disadvantaged young people to access and sustain quality work.

NYA CEO Leigh Middleton said:

We simply cannot create enough opportunities and jobs. Without a fundamental change in how we support young people, far too many will be left behind. Trained youth workers provide long term relationships that young people value, and ensure there is no cliff-edge of support when young people reach 18 years of age. A churn of jobs and opportunities will be the pattern of work for most young people, including periods of underemployment. A youth work approach helps young people stay connected with a sense of belonging, not despair.”

Youth Employment UK CEO Laura-Jane Rawlings said:

The investment from government into programmes such as Kickstart and other #PlanforJobs initiatives is a step in the right direction for youth employment, but there is much more to be done. Young people tell us that they do not feel they have the skills employers are looking for or that they will find good quality opportunities where they live. By utilising the brilliance of the youth work and employment sector, bringing young people, employers and policy makers closer together we can begin the long march to recovery and to a better future for young people. The recommendations in this report will go a long way to levelling up opportunities for young people across the country.”

The two organisations have come together to up-skill youth workers to help remove barriers and support more young people into work and training, and to embed a youth work approach that complements employment services.

For further information, read NYA and Youth Employment UK’s report, Outside, Looking In:


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Notes for the Editor: 

  1. 797,000 young people in the UK who were Not in Education, Employment or Training in October to December 2020
  2. NYA is the national body for youth work in England (Professional, Statutory & Regulatory Body).
  3. Youth Employment UK is an independent, not for profit social enterprise founded in 2012 to tackle youth unemployment.

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