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Youth Select Committee launches report calling on Government to take action on ‘unequal' work experience opportunities

12 November 2018

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On Wednesday 14 November, the Youth Select Committee launched its report investigating the barriers faced by young people across the country in accessing work experience.

The report, titled ‘Realising the potential of work experience' was launched at a special House of Commons reception with Sir David Natzler, Clerk of the House of Commons, in anticipation of a government response.

The report launch forms part of the UK Parliament Week festival. Work experience was chosen as the topic of the inquiry following thousands of votes in the 2017 Make Your Mark ballot, designed to give youth a voice.

Why is work experience so important?

Earlier this year a YouGov poll revealed over two-thirds of young people (71 per cent) are expecting it to be tougher to find a job in 2030 with 58 per cent of all 11-18 year olds citing a lack of work experience as a barrier.

The report launch comes at a time when Office for National Statistics figures reveal almost half a million young people are unemployed, a figure which in itself conceals substantial inequalities.

The Committee's key findings and recommendations include:

  • Access to good quality work experience remains patchy and inconsistent despite recent reforms.
  • Who you are, where you live and where you go to school is associated with the kind and quality of work experience that you are likely to be able to access. Stark inequalities associated with socioeconomic background, health and disability, gender, ethnicity and location remain.
  • The Department for Education's current approach of using benchmarks and working with the Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC) to improve quality and consistency is promising but not yet proven. The Department for Education must commission a full, independent review into the CEC's impact on access to work experience for the most disadvantaged young people.
  • Government needs to do more to integrate work experience—in all its forms—with its industrial strategy.
  • Government should work with schools, business and young people to develop a quality benchmarking scheme for businesses offering work experience.

What is being said about the report?

Claudia Quinn, Chair of the Youth Select Committee, said: “Following our extensive inquiry, we have concluded the Government need to address the patchy, unequal nature of young people's access to work experience. The Government must act now to ensure the most disadvantaged young people can access high quality work experience.”

Rt Hon John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, said: “From questioning business leaders to charity experts, the Youth Select Committee spent months investigating how high-quality work experience can help future-proof the UK's economy. The result is a detailed report which again shows how essential the committee is in representing the views of our country's future, now more than ever. I am delighted to see the launch of this report, and I am confident my Parliamentary colleagues will consider its conclusions. I am also certain it will provide an invaluable contribution to the wider discussions in this area.”

How does the Youth Select Committee work?

The Youth Select Committee is a joint initiative between Parliament and the British Youth Council, it gives young people from across the country the opportunity to scrutinise and hold inquiries into topics of importance to them.

The eleven committee members are aged 11-18 and include Members of the UK Youth Parliament, Youth Councillors, a Young Mayor and representatives from each of the devolved nations.

Evidence for the Youth Select Committee's report on work experience was gathered in July from a range of expert witnesses, including leaders from the worlds of business, politics and the charity sector.

Just like UK Parliament Select Committees, the Youth Select Committee heard evidence inside a Committee Room in Parliament, which is normally reserved for MPs, and their report will now be sent to the Government for an official response.

Further information

For further information about the 2018 Youth Select Committee please visit the British Youth Council website.

You can find out more about the individual members of this year's Youth Select Committee here.

Following the report launch in the House of Commons, a full copy of the report will be made available on the Youth Select Committee web page here.