Youth Employment Convention

2nd December 2015

A big thank you on behalf of Inclusion and NIACE to all the delegates, supporters, sponsors and speakers that attended our Youth Employment Convention last week. It was truly a day to share and engage with young people in finding more ways to inspire them into sustainable employment.

We had a great kick start at the Working Breakfast thanks to Alex from Tomorrow’s People, who got everyone up on their feet and stretched out for the day ahead. This was soon followed by the welcome address where NIACE’s David Hughes and Francis Augusto, a Youth Ambassador from Talent Match London challenged the minds of young people to be “active participants and not passive recipients” in securing employment. This statement remained as one the most encouraging of the day and urged young people to take ownership and make use of the opportunities available to them. With that being said, responsibility also rested upon employers to open up avenues to young people and embrace their ways of innovation from all angles.

HRH The Princess Royal and patron of NIACE, took the stage to talk about the merger between Inclusion and NIACE. With this in mind she advocated that effective support for young people is best sought through collaboration, which is what the merged organisation expects to deliver in the New Year to come.

A number of themes emerged through the day itself, one of which being the role of education in preparing young people for the future. There was a clear consensus that schools were most concerned with meeting individual targets and encouraging young people to attain the ‘right qualifications’ that will help them to excel. However it seemed that this can result in young people lacking in the practical skills they would need in the workplace and ultimately leaves them at a disadvantage. Thus, there is an urgent need to make education relevant to the lives and skills that young people require and young people’s resilience scaled to meet these challenges.

The topic of ‘soft skills’ was also touched on as speakers saw its significance in shaping how young people interact within the workplace. Looking at the ‘What Employers Want’ website – a website developed by NIACE which discusses the different traits that employers seek to find in a young person – soft skills including communication, problem-solving, time-management, teamwork and working under pressure were amongst the most valued in regards to employment. Also found to be desirable skills were:
• A positive attitude;
• ‘Hard skills’ with a high value on literacy, numeracy and IT skills;
• Key qualifications or commitment to boost their qualifications; and
• Experience of part-time jobs, work-placements or work-experience or volunteering

These particular abilities were re-emphasised at this year’s convention as employers identified what they believed young people needed to develop when transitioning into employment.

One last theme that stood out was innovation itself and indeed what “employment” means. This was the leading factor which drew together all the themes of the day. Without innovation embedded within the employment sector it will be difficult to deliver clear guidance to young people as they will continue to be constrained by traditionalist views upon entering the world of work.

All in all, the convention was certainly a success and as Inclusion and NIACE move forward to the merger we will definitely seek to be an organisation that supports the progression of young people in the future.