Embargoed until 00:01 THURSDAY 19 August 2010
More opportunities to learn work and social skills would help ‘lost generation’ and cut cost to state
Young people who failed to develop key social and emotional skills at an early age can acquire them through doing an apprenticeship, new research from Demos shows.
Sixteen year-old boys who did apprenticeships earned on average 7 per cent more than those who did not. Young people who took apprenticeships were more confident, happy and skilled by the time they were aged 30 than their non-apprentice contemporaries.
Demos calls on Government to encourage employers to offer young people who are NEET (not in employment, education, or training) skilled apprenticeships to develop both work and life skills. Apprenticeships are already heavily oversubscribed, with British Telecom getting 100 applications for every place offered.
Analysis of British Cohort Study revealed that disadvantaged young people who undertook apprenticeships were:
* More likely to feel they could run their life the way they wanted (98 percent as opposed to 95 per cent of the general population)
* More likely to have never felt hopeless (92 per cent compared with 75 per cent of the general population)
* More confident in their ability to solve problems, learn new skills and work in a team.
The research, published by Foyer Federation, showed apprenticeships give disadvantaged young people access to the social networks that may not be available to them through informal contacts.
They also resulted in significant increases in incomes, though only for males. Girls who undertook apprenticeships did not benefit financially as much as men, indicating that more focus should go into making sure women have the same opportunities to progress through the workplace as men.
The research found:
* Teenagers without previous qualifications who were apprentices earned on average 13 per cent more than their contemporaries without qualifications or training
* Those with GCSE grades D-F earned 4 percent more than their untrained contemporaries
* Those with GCSE grades A-C earned 9 per cent more than their untrained contemporaries
Julia Margo, Director of Demos said:
“These findings are great news – it gives young people lacking in these basic character capabilities a second chance. Character capabilities are the skills we all take for granted, but are the ones that matter when it comes to getting and holding down a job or social relationships.
“It’s time to stop peddling the myth that A Levels are the gold standard. Apprenticeships offer experience, a wage and the social contacts that are crucial to get on in life. Rigging A Levels so more emphasis is put on exams, rather than coursework, won’t help. Young people need training to help them operate in the workplace, not qualifications that prepare them to fail.”
Recommendations from Access All Areas include:
* A basic ‘capabilities test’ for severely disadvantaged young people going through the welfare-to-work system so that those found to be lacking in life skills can be fast-tracked to employability schemes
* Government support for voluntary and community sector organisations to develop, improve and provide apprenticeships as part of the ‘Big Society’ agenda
* The Job Seekers Allowance system should be reviewed to ensure it does not disincentivise young people – particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds – from undertaking work experience and internships.
* The introduction of a ‘pay-back’ scheme for employers who provide high quality work experience for disadvantaged and at-risk young people
* The introduction of a nation-wide internship network allowing companies to share experiences of working with disadvantaged young people
There are currently 169,000 16-17 year olds who are unemployed. These young people – who could benefit from apprenticeship schemes – are estimated to cost the state £4.6bn per year. There are 564,000 16-17 year-olds undertaking apprenticeships in England this year. Each young person who is NEET costs the state £120,000 per year on average. Demos argues that investing in apprenticeships would dramatically lower this cost.
Young people who are NEET are more likely to live an unhealthy lifestyle, use illegal substances and engage in criminal behaviour, be involved in violent situations and end up in prison. A report by Demos found that young people who became NEET at 16 had often become disengaged from school as early as aged 5. This latest research shows that an apprenticeship can make the difference between sinking and swimming for young people disillusioned by classroom education.
Character capabilities – skills like application, self-regulation, empathy, self-understanding and social skills – are more important for getting on in life than academic qualifications. Demos analysis of the British Cohort Study found that these skills, normally developed in childhood, can still be learnt during adolescence and early adulthood, given the right conditions. This is supported by scientific evidence. Neuroscience suggests that the areas of the brain responsible for character – the pre-frontal cortex in particular – develop rapidly through adolescence and early adulthood.
Jane Slowey, Chief Executive of the Foyer Federation said:
“The opportunity to develop social skills and identify and promote talent is essential for all young people to get on and thrive in life. Apprenticeships can offer young people this prospect; especially those whose backgrounds and experiences have not always afforded them the opportunities they need to navigate their futures in positive ways.
“This report supports and adds to the evidence base that we have developed through the delivery of our programmes like Working Assets - that in order for young people to make a successful transition to adult independence, their skills and talents must be engaged, recognised and built on.
“The Foyer Federation are now looking to work with employers to connect Working Assets as a pre-apprenticeship programme for Foyers to offer a more formal pathway for young people to progress from.”
Notes to editors
Access All Areas by Julia Margo, Eugene Grant, Dom Longford and Miranda Lewis was written by Demos and is published by Foyer Federation. It includes original analysis of the 1970 British Cohort Study.
Demos is a think-tank focused on power and politics. Our unique approach challenges the traditional, 'ivory tower' model of policymaking by giving a voice to people and communities. We work together with the groups and individuals who are the focus of our research, including them in citizens’ juries, deliberative workshops, focus groups and ethnographic research. Through our high quality and socially responsible research, Demos has established itself as the leading independent think tank in British politics. Our work is driven by the goal of a society populated by free, capable, secure and powerful citizens.
About the Foyer Federation
The Foyer Federation develops and encourages new approaches to supporting young people at risk as they make their transition to adulthood. For nearly two decades, we have worked mainly through a network of over 100 accredited, integrated learning and accommodation providers, known as Foyers, who re-connect up to 10,000 young people a year with personal development, education, training and employment opportunities. The Foyer Federation are now exploring how the holistic Foyer approach can be stretched and targeted to improve services for those young people whose journey to adulthood is particularly difficult due to barriers they face in life.
The Foyer Federation has successfully run a community volunteering programme for young people, called Working Assets, which engages young people in preparing their talents for the world of work. We will be launching a further 18 projects through this programme across Foyers from September 2010, benefiting 200 young people looking for internship and apprenticeship opportunities.
Access All Areas can be downloaded for free from www.foyer.net.
Beatrice Karol Burks, Press and Communications Officer
020 7367 6325
079 2947 4938