A generation could be left behind


The FED are working across sectors and in partnership with all those concerned with the future of education in this country to support the development of a long term vision and plan for education.

This week saw the launch of the Power of Youth Campaign, led by #iwill, a nationwide collaborative effort aiming to recognise young people for their efforts, empower more young people to make a difference, and give young people opportunities to shape their future.

In this blog, Lamide Odanye, a FED Council member, co-founder of LIVE and co-chair of the #iwill Education Advisory Council, makes a passionate plea that ‘we cannot afford to ignore a generation of capable and talented young people, especially during a time like this.

Foundation for Education Development – 5 Starting Points

1. We need a cross sector long-term plan for education that empowers future generations and unlocks the country’s potential in post Brexit, post COVID-19 world

2. At regional and local level we need education to be a stronger catalyst for building economically successful communities with education, business and government becoming even more connected.

3. The Covid-19 crisis has impacted on our economy and our society. Education has a key role to plan in helping our country rebuild and respond to the need for regeneration and employment.

4. To create a continuously improving system, we need an approach that is agile and creative in learns from successful local, national and international interventions.

5. To help level up opportunities and provide world class outcomes for all we need a connected approach to an ambitious shared pathway, contracted in the belief that by working together we can achieve far more than the sum of our parts.

COVID-19 came and shook the foundations of our country, highlighting its strengths and fault lines. It has been extremely interesting to watch the Government’s priorities in its response to COVID-19. I fear that the COVID-19 response has been lacking when it comes to young people. It fails to reimagine a better world for the next generation; rather, it seems that the focus is on keeping our country above water. Though, I understand that survival has its place, I worry that using that stance as the central focus will mean young people are unable to thrive and flourish when this has passed.

Youth unemployment has been a problem in the UK for a while now and the problem has exponentially increased due to COVID-19. In January – March 2020, there were “516,000 unemployed young people aged 16-24”. By June – August 2020, that number had increased to “581,000 unemployed young people aged 16-24”, an increase of 65,000 in just months (Youth Unemployment Statistics, House of Commons Library 2020).

Young people between 18-24 years old also tend to be the first to lose their jobs when redundancies take place. The Resolution Foundation found that “one-third of 18-24 year old employees (excluding students) lost their jobs or had been furloughed during the pandemic, compared to one-sixth of prime aged adults”. This picture is reflected in the large increase in benefit claimants. In September 2020, “529,400 young people aged 18-24 claimed unemployment related benefits, an increase of 214,400 claimants since the beginning of lockdown in March 2020” (Youth Unemployment Statistics, House of Commons Library 2020). These numbers will keep increasing unless something is actively done to change this situation.

This is something we all must care about because youth unemployment affects everyone, not just young people. High levels of youth unemployment have big social and economic costs, for example, the financial cost of providing welfare and medical support. Youth unemployment has also been found to be linked to “long term reductions in earnings, increased chances of subsequent periods of unemployment and poorer health outcomes, including poor mental health linked to economic insecurity” (Youthemployment.org.uk). A generation of young people lost to unemployment means an inadequate talent pool for the needs of our businesses as the economy recovers, a fate we cannot afford. Moreover, it creates further inequalities particularly between communities, especially for those from low socioeconomic backgrounds, widening the economic gap that already exists in the UK.

The direct financial cost of youth unemployment over the next decade has been “estimated at £28 billion” (Youthemployment.org.uk). To solve this pressing problem, during the recovery planning, the Government and businesses must consider what new sustainable jobs can be created to reduce the rate of youth unemployment. In the meantime, the government should also consider how it could best utilise a diverse pool of young people to be an integral part of the short-term response and a central part of the solution in building a better future for our country. We cannot afford to ignore a generation of capable and talented young people, especially during a time like this.

To read more blogs from our council members, associates and friends, click here.


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