Can Small Businesses Help Close the “Aspiration Gap”?

Concerns over upward trend in unemployment amongst ‘Unskilled Youth Generation’ as Prince’s Trust publishes report warning of an ‘aspiration gap’

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) yesterday revealed that the jobless rate amongst young people stood at 20% with the trend in unemployment amongst 16-24 year-olds likely to rise and reach the 1 million mark.

Research also released by the Prince’s Trust warns of an aspiration gap’ developing amongst Britain’s poorest families due to lack of confidence amongst young people. According to the report, based on interviews with 2,311 16-to-24-year-olds from across the UK, one in four of those from deprived homes (26 per cent) believe that ‘few’ or ‘none’ of their career goals are achievable, compared to just seven per cent of those from affluent families.

The research, which highlights a clear aspiration gap between the UK’s richest and poorest young people, shows how more than a quarter from poor homes feels that ‘people like them don’t succeed in life’.

Many experts are attributing the worrying trend to an ever widening ‘skills gap’. Carmen Watson, Managing Director of Pertemps Recruitment Partnership, the UK’s largest independent recruitment company responded to the latest reports commenting:

“The government needs to extend funding for education providers to get the youth ‘work-ready’ by changing their mentalities towards work and providing them with the necessary skill sets needed to break this cycle of unemployment and low aspirations.”

Last month, Chancellor George Osborne also highlighted the skills gap as a real danger and voiced his concern that the UK was falling behind other developed countries in terms of having a skilled and flexible work force; a situation that would potentially undermine any future economic growth.

As a result, the government has announced extra funding for a further 250,000 apprenticeships over the next four years as well as launching its £60m apprenticeship initiative last week. Apprenticeships should prove an attractive solution to both employers and perspective employees as university fees increase. However, Carmen also highlights that the ‘right calibre’ employers look for, encompasses not just the business-specific skills required for their roles but wider more underlying qualities such as the right work ethic and passion for the role.

Watson continued,

“The skills agenda raises much concern and there are a number of vital areas we need to look at. A critical area appears to be 16-24 years olds where we have seen an alarmingly high unemployment rate so far this year. We are clearly not offering this age group enough training and support and, in my opinion, many fall out of training altogether. This is an issue that needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency and we need to be asking companies and training providers to seriously look at how we can engage with and support an age group that are failing to get jobs.”

Further details of the Prince’s Trust report can be found at Broke not Broken.

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