Targeting effective support at NEETs with low qualifications offers the best chances of reducing the most long-term scarring effects of youth unemployment, says CIPD.

The government is right to target support at the hardest-to-reach amongst the young unemployed – 16 to 17 year old NEETs with poor qualifications – as these are the people most at risk of the scarring effect of youth unemployment, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

Welcoming today’s announcement of a £126m scheme targeted at 55,000 teenagers who fall into this category, the CIPD highlighted the fact that this group are likely to fall into unemployment even in better economic times – and pointed to research showing that early contact with employers has a significant beneficial impact on future employment prospects.

Katerina Rüdiger, Skills Policy Adviser at the CIPD, said:
“The CIPD has consistently warned that overplayed ‘lost generation’ rhetoric around youth unemployment risks diverting attention away from the persistent and serious structural element of youth unemployment – affecting around 10% of young people in good economic times and bad. In that context, we welcome today’s announcement of a scheme specifically targeted at the most difficult-to-reach groups with the poorest qualifications.

“Well before the recession hit, the CIPD was finding a marked preference amongst employers to recruit people with more experience, even to entry level jobs – to the detriment of young school leavers. However, we’ve also seen, through initiatives we’re running to give young people access to voluntary guidance and mentoring from our members, that young people can quickly have their confidence and ability to impress employers boosted sufficiently to find work. We also know that employers who do hire young school leavers have far more positive views of the potential of younger employees than those who do not.

“If we can break the cycle of no experience, no job, there is a real opportunity to boost employer perceptions of young people, and spare the economy the negative consequences of a significant minority of young people who grow up with little experience of work. Research shows that the more contact young people have with employers, the better their chances of finding themselves in stable employment. Targeting employability support at people who’d likely struggle to find work even in times of stronger economic performance is the right approach. Those with very low qualifications and no experience of the workplace are the ones genuinely most at risk of the scarring effect of youth unemployment. The earlier government and employers working together can get to these people and give them genuine support and experience of the workplace, the better. The enduring challenge, of course, is creating the economic performance necessary to create more jobs for all categories amongst the growing ranks of the unemployed.”