When we were founded in 2012, we promised to prepare a comprehensive Manifesto for Youth Employment. After careful thought and research and a very significant amount of work, particularly for young volunteers who are working in their spare time, we have now prepared that Manifesto and released it in advance of the upcoming General Election. Our Manifesto for Youth Employment – written by Andrew Taggart, Emma Selinger and Florence Bates – is available here (or via the ‘Our Publications‘ page of our website).
While many other ‘manifestos’ by other organisations and campaigns have been released before the publication by political parties of their own manifestos in an aim to influence the party manifestos, our Manifesto has been published later than hoped and has not been able to properly influence this process. This is partly due to the careful work which has gone into the project – and our wish to ensure that the document was at the best it could be rather than being released too early.
However, there is also another reason. Our main focus is on the next Government – not the next election. After the General Election, a new UK Government will be formed. Will be a coalition government, a minority government, or a majority government? No one can say with any certainty. The only thing we can say with any certainty is that youth unemployment will remain as much a challenge to the next Government as it will to this one and the next Government will be responsible for building on the current Government’s successes and learning from their failures on youth unemployment.
When our Director, Andrew, was asked to speak at the 2014 Youth Employment Convention in May 2014 as part of a panel to identify the youth employment and skills challenges which faced the next Government, Andrew highlighted a critical point – that the challenges facing the next Government in 2015 would be essentially the same as the challenges faced by the Government in 2014. An economic and job creation system which does not create enough suitable jobs or other opportunities for young people. An education system which does not adequately prepare young people for the workplace. A welfare system which does not provide anywhere near enough help to unemployed young people. Perhaps worst of all, a political system which consistently fails to properly develop and co-ordinate policies and initiatives to tackle youth unemployment, whether on a local or national level – which in turn frustrates efforts to fix the other problems identified above. These are the deep-seated structural problems this Manifesto aims to tackle.
Our Manifesto is a detailed, cross-party document which has been researched for, drafted and edited solely by a taskforce of three young people (all in their early or mid 20s) in their spare time. It has also been supported by The Found Generation’s broader group of young volunteers, who are from a range of backgrounds and cover a range of political viewpoints, including Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters and activists, as well as other volunteers who are not affiliated to any political party. The Manifesto contains no less than 32 clear, practical, evidence-based sets of policy proposals to be implemented. It is both the direct result of several months of specific work on the Manifesto as well as the indirect result of several years of campaigning since The Found Generation was set up in 2012.
We strongly urge anyone who is reading this post to read our Manifesto in full. However, some of the key provisions include:
- Refocusing the StartUp Loans scheme for funding new businesses on 18-24 year old entrepreneurs
- Loosening eligibility requirements for the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers (AGE) scheme which incentivises businesses to hire young apprentices, and introducing higher payments for the smallest businesses and/or the areas of highest youth unemployment
- Taking steps to increase the number and variety of graduate and apprenticeship schemes across the public, private and voluntary sectors and expanding the use of public sector procurement to provide more jobs, apprenticeships and traineeships
- Scrapping employer National Insurance contributions for all employees under 25
- Supporting and expanding Youth Employment UK’s “Youth Friendly Charter” scheme to provide a recognised ‘kitemark’ for ‘youth friendly’ employers
- Setting up an inquiry on unpaid internships and their effect on youth unemployment
- Embedding enterprise education, employability skills and ‘character’ education in schools and colleges (based on the work of schools such as those in the Aldridge Foundation) and improving literacy and numeracy teaching in schools, including through reform of the National Curriculum
- Setting up more University Technical Colleges and Studio Schools across the country and considering how to use best practice from these institutions in mainstream schools
- Expanding National Citizen Service to become a ‘rite of passage’ for all young people and encouraging more young people to do extra-curricular activities/voluntary work
- Providing all young people with guaranteed high-quality, face to face careers advice, work experience opportunities while in the education system, as well as ensuring every state secondary school has a dedicated alumni network by 2020
- Ensuring that Ofsted and Governing Bodies hold schools and colleges properly accountable for preparing young people for adult life, including employment or self-employment
- Overhauling the culture and practices of Jobcentre Plus (JCP) through improving training and conditions for JCP advisers, ensuring JCP performance measures include how many young people find and stay in work (rather than just on whether they leave benefits), improving how JCP supports Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants and engages with employers
- Piloting a ‘job guarantee’ for long-term unemployed young people
- Providing young people with specialist support and separate areas in JCP offices, as well as an improved, youth-focused New Enterprise Allowance to encourage more young people to set up a business
- Setting up a network of Youth Employment Centres across the country to provide additional support to young people, based on the MyGo Youth Employment Centre in Ipswich
- Creating a Minister for Youth Employment in the UK Government
- Setting up local youth employment partnerships across the country, based on schemes like the highly successful Norwich for Jobs campaign