The Work Foundation at Lancaster University wrote to the Chancellor in advance of his Autumn Statement on the subject of youth unemployment.

One of the four subjects covered in their letter was careers advice in schools.

“Ensuring that young people have a good understanding of the career opportunities and pathways into the labour market is essential if young people are to transition smoothly. Yet, a number of recent policy changes have impacted negatively on the ways in which schools prepare young people for the world of work.

“Careers guidance has been devolved to schools but they have received no additional funding – and Ofsted has recently reported that three quarters are failing in the duty to secure effective careers advice. Careers guidance is a critical aspect of a young person’s transition into employment or further training. High quality, independent careers guidance at key transition points enables young people to make informed choices and has been shown to raise aspirations and academic achievement.

“Further, a growing proportion of young people leave school with no experience of paid work. This leaves many young people in a ‘catch-22’ situation, where they have no work experience but cannot access employment to gain it. Yet, schools are no longer required to provide work experience placements for 14-16-year-olds. In 2011, almost half of young people who were NEET had had no experience of paid work; the Government needs to act now to address this.

• As part of the Growth Deals we recommend that the Government makes available a £50 million fund to pilot innovative approaches to delivering independent face-to-face careers guidance in schools and further education for young people under the age of 19.

• Reinstate the statutory requirement for schools to provide work experience opportunities for young people aged 14-16. As well as providing meaningful experience of work, schools should engage with employers to develop a package of other activities such as mentoring, workplace visits and careers fairs.”

Responding to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, Lizzie Crowley, head of youth unemployment programmes at The Work Foundation, said:

“The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement has revealed that despite low business investment and a lack of export growth he has already taking the recovery for granted. While some welcome measures were announced in the Autumn Statement, much more is needed to really tackle the UK’s youth unemployment crisis.

“We welcome the investment in JobCentre Plus to help 16-17 year olds into apprenticeships or traineeships as this will help to plug an important gap in the support available for young people. The focus on increasing the number of higher level apprenticeships also sets the right tone.

“However, many more areas require urgent reform, supported by additional resources. Tackling failures in our system of careers advice and guidance, for example, would have a much greater impact than scrapping Employer National Insurance Contributions for under-21s. This policy is unlikely to encourage a significant number of employers to take on more young people.“

The full letter can be read here: http://www.theworkfoundation.com/Media/Press-Releases/1507/Chancellor-misses-opportunity-to-tackle-youth-unemployment