APSE's latest research shows how local authorities can take a lead in ensuring the lives of a generation of young people are not blighted by long-term unemployment.
Our new report, 'Tackling youth unemployment: Local authorities leading the response', looks at what councils are already doing to address youth unemployment and ways in which this role could be extended. With more than one in five 16-24 year olds out of work, it maps what is happening on the ground and calls for central government to recognise the strategic leadership role of local authorities and invest the necessary funding to enable them to fulfil this important role.
The report is based on research carried out as part of APSE's Knowledge Transfer Partnership with De Montfort University. It examines the problem of youth unemployment in authorities across the UK and presents the findings of a national survey of local government activities to tackle this issue, along with case studies.
Key findings from the research include:
· 94% of respondents recognised youth unemployment as a problem locally
· 91% said it had got worse in the past five years
· 91% believe they could contribute to tackling youth unemployment
· 73% had a strategic plan to tackle youth unemployment
· 70% are facilitating work experience
· 80% are providing in-house apprenticeship schemes
· 40% are inserting social benefit clauses into contracts to promote local employment
· 34% are creating entry level jobs
In my view youth unemployment is one of the most pressing issues of our time and local government has a fundamental role in leading initiatives to tackle it. Our research clearly demonstrates that in many parts of the country councils are already taking up the challenge of ensuring that the life chances of a generation of young people do not become blighted by long-term unemployment. This report suggests further steps that can be taken at local and national level.
The report draws upon APSE's 'ensuring council' model to show councils have capacity to achieve four vital tasks:
· Convening – advocating and campaigning for action through forging coalitions with the local business community and recognised trade unions.
· Co-ordination – developing a joined up response to tackling youth unemployment by linking a range of information and funding sources.
· Collaboration – working with a range of local partners and employers, for example through financially incentivising the recruitment of
young people by other local employers.
· Custodian – using core capacity to actively provide and support employment opportunities
Examples of local initiatives to respond to youth unemployment cited in the report include:
· City and County of Swansea Council's ‘Keeping in Touch’ scheme to provide targeted support to pupils who may be at risk of leaving school at 16 without a qualification.
· South Ayrshire's Work Out! initiative to enhance employability amongst young people through work experience, and vocational training.
· Cheshire East Council's ‘A-Team’ apprenticeship scheme to give young people the opportunity to obtain qualifications while gaining experience in a range of council services.