A survey of over 4,000 11- to 30-year-olds has reported that anxiety and poor mental health are holding back more than half of young people.
The youth voice census, conducted by the charity Youth Employment UK, is now in its sixth year.
Careers education, experience of assessment and access to work experience were all topics covered, with fewer young people than ever before saying they feel prepared for the world of work.
Mental health issues accounted for two of the top five barriers reported to finding a job and half of respondents said that exams and assessments impact their mental health negatively.
Throughout the report, the impact of Covid 19 lockdowns is laid bare, with sizable proportions of young people discussing loneliness and low self-esteem in their responses.
“The numbers reveal the extent of the emergency,” said LJ Rawlings, chief executive and founder of Youth Employment UK.
“51 per cent of young people looking for work thought their anxiety was the biggest barrier to accessing work. 31.2 per cent of young people in work struggle with their wellbeing. Nearly a third (28.5 per cent) of young people said they are experiencing ‘social, emotional and mental health challenges’.
“The numbers are horrific, and behind each statistic is a young person needing support.”
Over 80% had apprenticeships discussed once or more in secondary school
Most young people were never taught about T Levels, starting their own business or Traineeships, according to the survey. Findings report that 72 per cent hadn’t discussed T Levels, 59 per cent hadn’t discussed starting a business and Traineeships weren’t part of discussions for 66 per cent on young people surveyed. Young people on free school meals were 6 per cent more likely to have heard about T Levels once or more.
Last year, the number of young people reporting that they had discussion A levels and apprenticeship options was almost equal, at 87 per cent and 86 per cent respectively. This year’s results show the gap widened slightly, with 87 per cent saying they had discussed A levels more than once and 84 per cent discussed apprenticeships at least once.
1 in 4 young people rated their secondary school careers education as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’
Only 2 per cent of the young people surveyed said that they visited a training provider as part of their careers education at secondary school. Just shy of 17 per cent said they had visited a college. The most common form of careers education reported were face to face advice (39 per cent) and careers lessons (38 per cent).
Overall, most young people – 45 per cent – said that the quality of their careers education was ‘average’ and 25 per cent said it was ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’. Of those, young people with additional needs were 4 per cent more likely to rate their careers education as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’.
Boys were twice as likely to be ‘very likely’ and young people on free school meals were five per cent more likely to apply for an apprenticeship.
Over two-thirds of college and sixth form students work or want to work alongside studying
Working while studying is likely to become even more prevalent as household bills continue to rise. At the time of this survey, 39 per cent of college and sixth form students were working alongside studying, and a further 30 per cent were looking for jobs alongside their course.
Students from low-income backgrounds were much more likely to be looking for work. Those eligible for free school meals were twice as likely to be looking for work.
Mental health concerns top barriers finding jobs
When asked about entering the world of work, two of the top five barriers reported by young people related to mental health.
‘Lack of work experience’ was the top barrier selected, with 55 per cent, however ‘anxiety’ and ‘mental health challenges’ were selected by 51 per cent and 32 per cent respectively.
Similarly, young people that were already in work reported.
Only 1 in 4 young apprentices feel ‘prepared’ or ‘very prepared’ for their end-point assessment.
The vast majority – nearly 75 per cent – of apprentices that completed the survey said their apprenticeships was either ‘helpful’ or ‘very helpful’ in preparing them for their next steps.
However only 24 per cent said that they felt ‘prepared’ or ‘very prepared’ for their End Point Assessment, with written responses calling for better communication about EPAs from training providers and employers.
Two in five college and sixth form students don’t know what they’ll do next
According to the survey, a majority of young people think the quality of education at college or sixth form is good, but a sizable number don’t know what they want to do next.
The survey found that 42 per cent of college and sixth form students said they either didn’t know or were unsure about their next steps. This is a four percentage-point increase on the same figure from last year’s survey.