Solving youth unemployment

It was very sad to see that while unemployment is falling, youth unemployment isn’t – in fact, it’s growing. According to BBC News, 23 January 2013, “The number of 16 to 24-year-olds out of work rose by 1,000 to 957,000.”

Mark Beatson, chief economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said this was “a continuing cause of concern” that could “risk a permanent scar on the labour market.”

In OECD countries, the UK beats only Spain and Greece for youth joblessness. Unemployment may be falling overall, but not for the young – the number of unemployed aged 15 to 24 has risen by 35% between 2008 and 2011.

This problem has to be solved – and it’s something at which the National Skills Academy for Logistics is working hard.

In many ways, the logistics sector is an ideal employer for younger unemployed people. It’s a sector that is growing – indeed, it’s estimated that an additional 738,000 trained logistics workers will be needed by 2020. The current employment profile within the sector is more senior: around 44% of workers are over 45. Young people are not just welcome, they’re needed.

There is a solution. We’re working with industry to provide pre-employment training for the logistics sector: taking people currently out of work (often younger people) and providing them with the skills – and qualifications – needed for them to work in the sector. The training is free and the person remains on Jobseekers’ Allowance for the duration of the training – at the end of which, an interview with a potential employer is guaranteed.

The training takes place in a live logistics environment – so it’s not all theoretical stuff. Indeed, during the 35-hour training programme, learners can also be orientated in the ways of a potential employer, as would be the case in an induction programme.

And the skills learned are often both generic and transferable – opening up opportunities for other roles in the sector. Yes, our goal is to train people, to get them into work, but we’d like to also see them on the path to a real career.

While there won’t ever be enough jobs in any single sector to solve the problem of youth unemployment, there are enough to make a meaningful dent in it.

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