Why join this conference series?

The Developing Quality Apprenticeships conference series is brought to you by two leading organisations in the sector, Youth Employment UK and Amazing Apprenticeships.

Together, we have put together a 4-month developmental programme that will encourage participants to explore topics affecting youth employment and apprenticeships in parallel, so that we can collectively build a greater understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing the sector and be inspired to take action.

Our conference organisers, LJ Rawlings, CEO of YEUK and Anna Morrison CBE, Director of Amazing Apprenticeships are both active Chairs of the Youth Employment Group (YEG) which was established in 2020 to help drive the UK’s response to the pandemic. The YEG has had a particular focus on the immediate and longer-term impacts of the coronavirus outbreak on the employment prospects of young people, in particular those facing the greatest challenges.

In July 2021, the Youth Employment Group released a paper, Levelling up for young people through which a series of recommendations have been made to the government and senior policy officials.

The paper also states the following findings:

> Young people have been hit worst by the labour market crisis

Young people account for more than two-fifths (41%) of the total fall in PAYE employment since the start of the crisis, with employment for young people now down by 9.6% compared with 1.8% for other age groups.

> The crisis is still very real for young people in the middle of 2021

The latest Universal Credit statistics show that 450,000 16 to 24-year-olds are currently listed as ‘searching for work’ – nearly double the figure in March 2020. Meanwhile, and with potentially greater lasting damage, long-term youth unemployment (defined as being unemployed for more than six months) is growing at its fastest rate in a decade and has reached its highest level in five years.

The impact of COVID on mental health has also been considerable, with symptoms of depression, anxiety and loneliness being most common among young people compared with older individuals.

> Even if the labour market begins to improve, the crisis will continue to affect young people in future jobs

Youth employment will continue to face headwinds through the summer through a combination of the furlough scheme unwinding and more young people entering the labour market. Even as firms are starting to report they have job vacancies suitable for young people, we will have many more young people that want the available jobs.

Analysis by the Learning and Work Institute has found that young people tend to be underrepresented in the occupations and sectors that are likely to see the most robust employment growth in the aftermath of COVID. They also forecast that demand for jobs requiring low or no qualifications – which often suit younger workers – is likely to fall in the short, medium and long term.

> Young people from the most disadvantaged backgrounds will continue to face the greatest barriers to securing a sustainable job

Of the one in seven young people not in education or employment, the large majority – two-thirds of this group and nearly one in ten of all young people – are not actively looking for work. This figure has been virtually unchanged over the last thirty years, through recessions and recovery, with young people with health conditions, disabilities, caring responsibilities and multiple disadvantages all over-represented. The ‘crisis response’ has so far neglected these groups, and the risk is that in this recovery, as with previous ones, those furthest from work continue to be left behind.

A message from the organisers

Anna Morrison CBE, Founder and Director of Amazing Apprenticeships

“I think it’s really important that we bring organisations and individuals together to understand the new post-pandemic landscape.

It’s clear to me that we have a unique window of opportunity to re-imagine and reposition some of our approaches so that traineeships and apprenticeships can be designed for some of our most disadvantaged young people.

That doesn’t mean lowering-the-bar of expectation – for me this is about stepping-up and ensuring that all programmes offer a high-quality option for young people with support structures that will encourage them to succeed.”

Laura-Jane Rawlings, CEO of Youth Employment UK

“We know from young people that they are keen to explore careers through apprenticeships and that when in an apprenticeship young people report high levels of satisfaction. But there is of course more to do to raise the standards, volume and opportunities for those young people who face multiple challenges to enter apprenticeships, particularly in the wake of Covid-19 and all that it has done to our young generation. 

This conference series will allow us to explore some of the issues and look at very practical ways that we can move the apprenticeship story forward. With a great lineup of speakers, some new to the apprenticeship circuit, young people and some big reveals around the Youth Voice Census and a digital Framework of quality youth employment, this is a not to be missed event”

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