Employers want to help solve youth employment crisis | Glasgow Chamber of Commerce
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Employers want to help solve youth employment crisis

A big Chamber thanks goes to the 18 folk of the Youth Employment Action Group (YEAG).  Over the last 14 months they have carried out a careful enquiry into measures which could be taken to make it easier for employers to help reduce youth unemployment.  They published their recommendations last week. 

Youth unemployment is one of the essential challenges of our economic times.  It's the young that have borne the brunt of the Great Recession.  That is especially true in countries like Greece and Spain, where over 50% of the youth labour force remain unemployed.

In Glasgow, the unemployment rate for young people is much higher than it is for any other age group.  According to the claimant count statistics for Glasgow, which is a fairly narrow measure, the number of young people entitled to claim benefit rose from 3,585 in November 2007 to 6,710 in April 2012. There will be a lot more who are not in a job, but who don't or can't claim and rely on their families for support.

The YEAG was brought together by the Glasgow Employer Board, which is another Glasgow Chamber of Commerce initiative.  The Board is asked to be the voice of employers in Glasgow and to make its recommendations on issues affecting the labour market in the city.

The YEAG is its biggest enquiry to date, with its18 members come from businesses large and small like Scottish Power, Boots, The Weir Group, LPL Telecom and Laing O'Rourke and from some of the city's public bodies like NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.  

At a full morning session to launch its report we heard five of the group in turn explain the 13 recommendations.  I urge you to have a look at their report to see their views. It's short and to the point but amongst the recommendations are:

  • A call for a single point of information for employers to help steer businesses through the variety of public initiatives designed to help young folk get into a job.
  • A business endorsed framework owned by Glasgow City Council's education service to help every secondary school in the city strike up a formal partnership with a business.
  • Sector-specific 'centres of excellence' focused on industries set for job growth such as engineering design and manufacture.
  • A proof of concept test of a hybrid model combining traditional further and higher education with intensive work-based learning.
  • A city-wide plan for increasing the impact of work experience for schools, colleges, universities and training providers who are all trying to find employers prepared to offer that experience.

The launch event at the St Mungo Museum of Religious Life & Art was packed out, and thanks go to Skills Development Scotland and to Glasgow City Council for giving a lot of support to the YEAG's work.

There are very many employers who are keen to help give young people a chance.  At a previous event to encourage businesses to sign up as possible partners with our secondary schools over 40 did so straight away.

If there's a big message coming from the report it's this. Employers want to help, so involve them in the creation of new initiatives and make it easier for them to become involved.  Larger companies have the resources to navigate their way through sometimes frustrating systems. Smaller companies do not.

Many bodies helped the YEAG come to its conclusions. Glasgow City Council, Skills Development Scotland, The Prince's Trust, Jobs and Business Glasgow, Glasgow University, Govan High School and many others took time to respond to the YEAG's questions. The YEAG was also very pleased to make a contribution to the thinking of the Commission on Scotland's Future Workforce, chaired by Sir Ian Wood.

It's now time for the stakeholders in Glasgow, including ourselves at the Chamber, to respond to the recommendations.

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