Governments have failed a generation of young people, say Lords

08 April 2016

53% of young people do not follow the ‘traditional’ academic route into work. This majority of young people are significantly overlooked in their transition for work by the education system and the focus on apprenticeships is not suitable for everyone, the House of Lords Select Committee on Social Mobility has found.

Committee Chair

Chair of the Committee, Baroness Corston, said:

“The current system for helping people move from school to work is failing most young people. They are simply not being adequately prepared for the world of work. This significantly disadvantages a huge number of young people and limits their opportunity for social mobility.

“Recent governments have focused on higher education and apprenticeships as the way to help young people to be successful in later life. Both routes can work well – but it is absolutely not the case that they are suitable for everyone. To focus on university or apprenticeships, to the exclusion of other routes, is to the detriment of many talented and able young people.

“We have found that without being taught life skills, given the right support, access to work experience and robust, independent careers advice, we are in danger of trapping these young people in low-skilled, low-paid work, with little chance of a rewarding career.

“A young person considering their options for further education or employment is presented with gobbledygook. It is totally unclear to them how they can get the skills needed for a successful career. It is also unclear to the people in their lives giving them advice and support in making these crucial decisions.
“Non-traditional qualifications are also poorly understood by employers, who cannot be expected to understand the bewildering array on offer, much less have confidence in their quality. That is a major barrier to young people in finding a job.

“The huge difference in funding between the academic and non-academic route into work is something that the Government must look at if we are to give all our young people an equal chance at succeeding in life. Simply put, young people choosing not to go to university are not invested in as they should be.

“I hope the recommendations of our report are implemented, in order to start giving all young people an equal opportunity to reach their potential.” 


The Committee makes eight recommendations to the Government, which support the development of a more coherent and straightforward system to help young people aged 14 and over through the transition from education to work. These include:

  • The national curriculum stopping at the age of 14, rather than 16 and the ages of 14-19 being recognised as a single key transition stage;
  • A new gold standard in independent careers advice and guidance, which moves responsibility away from schools and colleges;
  • For the Government to act as a facilitator, brokering collaboration between existing local bodies such as colleges, schools, local authorities local enterprise partnerships and employers in order to meet the needs of local labour markets; and 
  • That a Cabinet-level Minister take responsibility for the transition from school to work for young people (as responsibility currently falls between a number of departments and ministers).

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

More news on: Parliament, government and politics, Parliament, Employment and training, Education, Schools, Employment, Employment schemes, Training, House of Lords news, Lords news

Share this page