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Huge skills gap among UK's young people revealed

Young people not in education, employment or training (known as NEETs) in the UK are falling far behind their employed peers in terms of literacy and problem-solving skills, according to research from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

It found a literacy gap of 12.6 per cent between NEETs aged 16 to 29 and their employed peers, and a 9.6 per cent gap for problem-solving skills.

The gaps were larger in the UK (represented in the analysis by England and Northern Ireland) than for any of the other 21 industrialised countries it studied. The literacy gap in the UK was almost double the OECD average of 6.5 per cent.

It also found that more than half of UK NEETs had given up looking for a job: 56 per cent of them had abandoned their job search (above the OECD average of 53.8 per cent) and risked further 'skills erosion'.

Re-engagement of young people

The report calls for a policy focus aimed at re-engaging young unemployed people with education and the labour market, including through 'second-chance' training schemes.

Employers can help by building on the quantity and quality of apprenticeships and improving the school-to-work transition.

They can also show an awareness of common worries and anxieties that young people have in the crucial transition-into-work period, offer workplace support by fostering confidence and a sense of self-worth.

Official figures recently revealed that the number of NEETs has fallen to its lowest level for a decade, but at 943,000, one in eight young people still falls into this category.

Acas publications and services

Acas has published pdf icon Managing Future Talent - A guide for employers [1Mb], which aims to share good practice about how to create a workplace in which young employees can thrive.

The pdf icon Recruiting staff guide [360kb] has all you need to know about recruitment, selection and implementation of induction programmes.

Acas experts can visit your organisation and review your existing recruitment and induction procedures. See Recruitment and Retention: how Acas can help for more details.

Acas also offers practical training on Recruitment, based on its own guidance, taking you through the legal and best practice elements of fair and effective recruitment.

For free, impartial advice and guidance visit Acas Helpline Online.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.

Acas conference - Young Workers, Supporting and managing the workforce of tomorrow, 23 November 2017, Colmore Gate, Birmingham

This unique Acas conference will tackle the issues of engaging and retaining young workers faced by employers. We will also cover subjects such as:

  • the apprenticeship levy
  • attracting and retaining young workers
  • the skills shorting....and more!

For further information and booking details visit the event page or call Acas Customer Services on 0300 123 1150.

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