Maryanne Matthews, Chief Executive, EY Foundation

Maryanne Matthews, Chief Executive, EY Foundation

As national work experience week comes to a close and our very own EY Foundation Young People Week has its final day of celebration, it feels timely to share with you some of our findings from our recent report jointly released with the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).

Reflecting the results of interviews with 1,500 young people, the report entitled ‘An age of uncertainty: young people’s views on getting into work in 21st century Britain’, provides an insight into the perceptions of today’s 16-21-year-olds on work and their future careers. Ensuring that the voices of young people are being heard, and providing access to local employers is a core part of our mission at the EY Foundation. At a time when so many are still struggling to access quality experiences of work we need to ensure that the voices of the younger generation are heard loud and clear  – to drive actions to improve their working prospects and consequently their lives.

What is clear to me, both from this research and from my conversations with many of the young people on our programmes, is that almost all experiences of work are highly valued. They give young people confidence and a sense of achievement. They tell me that they would like more opportunities to meet employers – in the report 88% say they want employers to offer more opportunities for work in order to learn more from them, and to understand the workplace and how that relates to their path in life.

And yet young people are facing an ‘experience trap’. Our report shows that 56% say it’s difficult to get the experience needed to get a job they want and it is even harder for those from lower socio-economic backgrounds. This means young people are more likely to be dependent on schools to offer good guidance and advice because, outside of the home, this is where they receive most information about careers and work. But with only 51% of 16-18-year-olds saying their school offers work experience, compared to 64% of those now aged 19-21, much more needs to be done to offer young people reliable information and better support.

Whilst we know that many employers are doing great things to support young people in employment and offering inspiring experiences of work and many schools do an excellent job in creating these opportunities for their students, we are finding severe fragmentation of these efforts. This means that not every young person, in every region across the UK, has the same systematic and high-quality experiences of work with local employers. Without this, how can young people across the UK hope to get the right job, and how can employers hope to get the right talent? We believe that one of the essential starting points is to engage with young people early, before they go into higher education, by offering workplace experiences. Empowering young people with a wider knowledge of the workplace earlier on in their education journey allows them to make better, more informed, decisions later.

In our experience, relevant and quality-driven employer engagement at the right moment in a young person’s life can be transformational for both parties. To this end the EY Foundation has been collaborating with a diverse range of employers from across the UK – from Yorkshire Water to CBRE and Linklaters – to get young people from disadvantaged communities into their organisations by offering accredited programmes of paid work experience, training and mentoring: Our Future and Smart Futures.

We want to make sure that every young person, everywhere across the UK has access to the same systematic and high quality experiences of work with employers in their area. By working to make this a reality young people across the UK will find the right job, and employers will find the right talent to grow their businesses. That is why we believe that:

  1. Young people should learn more about the world of work every year from 11 18 by introducing a school-to-work syllabus into the national curriculum, accredited by leading bodies such as CMI.
  2. We need to strengthen and champion all pathways into work, including apprenticeships and entrepreneurship.
  3. We should develop key management and leadership skills at a younger age.
  4. We must create an employer-backed national Youth Panel to allow the voices of young people to shape and champion the school-to-work agenda .

Against a backdrop of increasingly uncertain labour market conditions and economic stability the more that employers play an active role in developing young people, the more we can help every young person to have better working prospects now and in the future to benefit of all of society.

Get involved with the debate @EY_Foundation @cmi_managers #schooltowork

The full report can be found at here:

Join our campaign for a school-to-work campaign for young people by clicking here