Elizabeth Taylor, ERSA CEO
I am excited to be celebrating World Youth Skills Day, promoting the work of ERSA members. In 1986 (then a youth myself) I was the UK delegate at Vancouver Island’s World Conference for Youth on Employment Strategies. As an invited speaker, I talked about job opportunities and job creation for, and by, young people in the UK.
Several decades and a worldwide pandemic later, what do I see in 2021? – The same issues, with similar approaches needed, but new and evolving skills required for the future.
Going back to the 1980s, in each recession or downturn young jobseekers are usually hardest hit in the labour market. In response, the best initiatives to make a lasting change have proven to be those built around quality work experience linked to training, skills acquisition, immediate work, and opportunities to progress. We must remember that workplace experience and knowing how to work are skills that, when combined with others, achieve good work and progression.
From back in the days of the Manpower Services Commission training programmes (including the Youth Training Scheme); then New Deal’s 18-24 six-month work experience placements on the Voluntary Sector Option and Environmental Task Force; through the Future Jobs Fund and today’s Kickstart iteration; creative organisations have delivered quality work experience and added value through skills training.
Innovators in the employment support sector made good use of ESF to enhance New Deal placements – with waged options, driving lessons (and tests), key skills, and vocational qualifications. Not qualifications for the sake of them but qualifications that led to good, paid work.
Thinking ahead from 2021; what will good jobs in the future look like? Let’s listen to young people about their interests and aspirations, let’s deliver meaningful, quality and joined up employability and skills provision.
Kickstart can create jobs, when it works well it will lead to progression, meet skills gaps, and provide staff for the jobs of tomorrow. We can go further and make sure Kickstart delivers for the young people that need the career start most, and we can use our knowledge of local labour market skills gaps.
And we can do more. There is still time to create more Kickstart opportunities and to prioritise job creation in sectors that build community wealth, de-carbonise the economy, promote environmental recovery, contribute to our longer-term health, housing, care, cultural and creative needs. Innovative partnerships should be encouraged to help facilitate and lead in a community or sector building on work experience and skills delivery.
“We must remember that workplace experience and knowing how to work are skills that, when combined with others, achieve good work and progression.”
“Let’s listen to young people about their interests and aspirations, let’s deliver meaningful, quality and joined up employability and skills provision.”