EU8 workers vs. young UK workers

It is impossible to compare UK born young workers with EU8 migrant workers (those from the eight countries that joined the EU in 2004), because you are not comparing like for like.  'The Growth of EU Labour: Assessing the Impact on the UK Labour Market' report, published today, highlights that a disproportionate number of EU8 migrant migrants are aged 24 and above, are often educated to degree level and will inevitably have prior work experience. It's little surprise therefore that, when targeting the same type of low-skilled job opportunities, some EU8 migrants are faring better than younger UK-born jobseekers.

Given the wider role EU8 migrant workers have had in helping to encourage growth in the UK economy it is clear that restrictions are not the answer. Furthermore, those employers who have recruited EU migrants are also more likely to offer work experience opportunities, internships and Apprenticeships, all crucial routes to help young people access the labour market. However, in order to help young people take advantage of these opportunities, and compete on a level playing field in a global labour market, it is clear that more needs to be done to improve transitions from education to work.

Government, education providers, employers, young people and the youth sector all have a role to play, and in recent years collaborative efforts have begun to make a dent in the record levels of youth unemployment we were faced with two years ago. Via our Learning to Work programme we promote the role of employers in helping to tackle youth unemployment, and have been encouraged by recent evidence, highlighted in our report 'Employers: Learning to Work with Young People', that suggests an increased number of employers are extending the number of opportunities available to young people and are taking steps to make their organisations more youth friendly. We also promote direct contact with young people via two volunteering programmes, Steps Ahead Mentoring, a free face-to-face mentoring programme for young jobseekers and Inspiring the Future, an initiative that connects professionals with schools. More than 4,000 CIPD members have already committed their time to help young people in this way, further evidence of the willingness of employers to take action.

The majority of those that already recruit young people are very positive about their recruits, often reporting that they bring wider benefits to their business such as fresh insight or new skills. However, a consistent issue that has been flagged by employers and the young jobseekers who participate in our Steps Ahead Mentoring programme, is the impact of a lack of high-quality careers information, advice and guidance (IAG) in schools.

Although youth unemployment levels have fallen in recent months, over 700,000 16-24 year olds are still unemployed. In the past youth unemployment has persisted even during times of economic growth, and this problem will continue so long as young people lack awareness of the options open to them after they leave school. Young people also need to understand the longer term gains to be made from participating in Apprenticeships, Traineeships or other entry-level routes. We therefore welcome the Government's recent announcement of a new duty on schools to boost their careers IAG offer, including a strong focus on the importance of employer involvement, but call for this to be supplemented with extra financial support for schools to meet this new duty. We also believe that some extra 'brokerage' support at a local level will be welcomed by both schools and employers, to help address some of the difficulties that both sides can encounter when creating these important relationships. Steps such as these, coupled with continued efforts by employers to provide access routes and an emphasis on youth friendly recruitment and management practices, should help UK born young workers to compete and ensure employers have access to the future talent they need to succeed.

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