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How to end mass youth unemployment

Michael Mercieca's blog for Global Entrepreneurship Week

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Unemployment rates fell last month but the rate of youth joblessness is still on the rise. Everyone seems to have an opinion on how we can reduce the lost generation of young people who are not in employment, education or training, the so-called NEETs.

I would argue that if you delay intervening until after young people have reached this position you will end up dealing with the symptoms of the problem, not dispensing a cure.

Of course we must continue to address the high rates of youth unemployment in the UK. But unless you fix the pipeline of students leaving school with inadequate skills, the problem is never going to go away.

Companies are rightly being told that it is vital for the future of the economy to employ young people. Yet often when young people attend interviews the employers discover that the potential recruits are simply not equipped for the jobs on offer.

At Young Enterprise, we don’t just teach “at” pupils. We have developed a range of programmes that provide a contrast to school by encouraging them to actually get up and do something themselves and take responsibility for a project. This is what business is all about and it makes no sense that young people are rarely pushed to enhance their teamwork, communication, persistence and resilience until they are plunged into the job market.

We have a network of 5,000 volunteers from the business world who go into classrooms to act as mentors so that the students have the chance to talk to an expert face to face. Business and the world of work shouldn’t be something scary and remote that you’re only faced with when you leave school. It should be something that you start preparing for and getting involved with at a young age.

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