The recent announcement of “Youth on the Move” by the European Commission has highlighted the challenge we have in Europe to help our young people into work. This is a major issue in the UK with 950,000 unemployed young people, a 20% youth unemployment rate. Older workers have traded down to lower skilled jobs during the economic crisis, displacing young people with less experience.
Take pride: young Britain works - Year 2
There is a growing danger of a lost generation if we are not able to enable our unemployed youth to gain the skills and experience needed to enter the workforce. In response to this challenge, Microsoft has launched Young Britain Works a commitment to provide opportunities for 100,000 young people to receive work experience, apprenticeships, training, mentoring and support.
Young Britain Works builds on the success of Microsoft’s Britain Works programme, which has helped 104,000 people get skills and into work since its launch in September 2009, through apprenticeships, community IT training and partnerships with a broad range of NGOs. A key element of Young Britain Works is the provision of work experience and opportunities for young people, especially as a contribution to social mobility. 56% of children whose parents have a professional career have similar aspirations but, by contrast, only 13% of children with parents in semi-skilled occupations would contemplate a professional career.
Social mobility is also hampered by the opportunities currently available to young people. The YouGov SixthSense report commissioned by Microsoft revealing that 88% of business owners surveyed do not run a formal work experience programme which is open to people without contacts at the company. This is despite 77% of businesses surveyed considering that prior work experience has an impact on employability.
To kick start the campaign, Microsoft has created 150 new work experience placements in a programme designed to provide young people with the tangible skills they need to help boost their employment prospects such as team working, problem solving and presenting. In addition, Sky has joined the Britain Works programme and will be offering merit based work experience opportunities to individuals. Microsoft will also provide a ‘Good Work Experience’ guide for organisations considering joining the campaign who have not run structured work experience schemes before. Microsoft is also using the power of social media to engage young people. Through a partnership with LinkedIn, Microsoft is connecting experienced professionals with job-seeking young people to provide advice, guidance and support.