According to recently published research by PwC and the Youth Futures Foundation (YFF), a significant proportion of young people risk being stranded in low-wage work, or outside education or employment, in the coming decades, unless the UK creates a more inclusive and resilient labour market.

The Youth Employment Index research is a collaboration between PwC and YFF which measures, benchmarks and monitors youth employment and the access of young populations to education and training across OECD countries.

The UK labour market has performed in the middle-of-the-pack for many years in terms of its opportunities for young people, with many of the most vulnerable remaining inactive for long periods of time,  The latest published research shows that the UK has improved its ranking to 18th amongst other OECD countries, but has moved up from 20th overall.

Existing trends in the UK labour market were exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, widening existing inequalities affecting young people, especially from minority groups.  At the start of the pandemic, youth unemployment increased by over four percentage points more than the rest of the workforce, with young people being over-represented in shut-down sectors who were more likely to already be employed in temporary jobs and zero hours contracts anyway.

The research recommends a wide range of policy areas to support the development of adaptable, resilient skills, empowering young people to find productive, rewarding work and promote their wellbeing.

The report has developed 13 separate policy proposals – including the development of existing policy and novel policy suggestions. These are policies are categorised under four key areas to help build a comprehensive youth policy strategy, namely: –

  1. Developing skills through investing in better vocational training, improving skills matching, encouraging a more flexible education system and increasing emphasis on place-based policies;
  2. Supporting people by providing proper career guidance and mentorship, promoting well-being in young people, and addressing inequality;
  3. Supporting incomes through improving social safety nets for young people, using targeted fiscal policy during economic downturns and supporting those negatively impacted by technological innovation; and
  4. Shaping labour demand by investing in high productivity sectors, improving legal and regulatory protections for all workers and developing appropriate measures of job quality.

To read the full PwC / YFF research report please access this link.