Experience required

Youth unemployment has been steadily rising for some time and currently sits at its highest level since comparable records began. Demos has recommended changes to the education system that would counteract youth unemployment in the long-term. But the question remains of what can be done in the short and medium-term for those young people who are NEET – not in employment, education or training.

Experience Required argues that government has failed so far because it has misunderstood the problem. Previous attempts have often regarded NEETs as a ‘stubborn underclass’ who are socially excluded. In fact, the vast majority of NEETs are simply young people moving in and out of education and employment, who would benefit from stable, long-term capability building programmes.

These young people require a set of positive experiences that build skills and confidence and
connect them to further opportunities. To understand how such experiences can be supplied, we surveyed the landscape of capability building programmes in the UK. As a result of our research, we argue that the Government should explore developing a full-time volunteering programme at the national level. Such a programme could help provide young people with the experience required to succeed in today’s tough labour market.