08/04/2016 00:02 BST

Majority Of Young People 'Forgotten By Whitehall', Lords Claim

The majority that don't go to university are 'left behind'.

Neil Hall / Reuters
Apprentice engineers work on an aeroplane engine in this 2013 file photo

Young people who don't go to university are being failed by the government, a House of Lords committee has warned.

It found the 53% of 14 to 24-year-olds who do not take an academic route into work have been "forgotten and left behind" by Whitehall.

The House of Lords social mobility committee also found that employers preferred traditional, often academic qualifications, meaning many young people experience "major barriers" to finding a job.

House of Lords/YouTube
Baroness Corston is chair of the social mobility committee

The Committee also found a significant inequality in the investment in the education of young people.

There was a difference of approximately £6,000 a year per student between the public funding of young people attending college and university.

Chair of the committee, Baroness Corston said: "The current system for helping people move from school to work is failing most young people.

"They are simply not being adequately prepared for the world of work.

"This significantly disadvantages a huge number of young people and limits their opportunity for social mobility.

A young person considering their options for further education or employment is presented with gobbledygook.Baroness Corston, committee chair

The committee's recommendations

  • The national curriculum stopping at the age of 14, rather than 16 and the ages of 14-19 being recognised as a single key transition stage;
  • A new gold standard in independent careers advice and guidance, which moves responsibility away from schools and colleges;
  • For the Government to act as a facilitator, brokering collaboration between existing local bodies such as colleges, schools, local authorities local enterprise partnerships and employers in order to meet the needs of local labour markets; and
  • That a Cabinet-level Minister take responsibility for the transition from school to work for young people (as responsibility currently falls between a number of departments and ministers).

Baroness Corston continued: "A young person considering their options for further education or employment is presented with gobbledygook. 

"It is totally unclear to them how they can get the skills needed for a successful career."

She said that non-traditional qualifications are "poorly understood" by employers and that the "bewildering" array of courses means questions are raised about quality.

It is this which presents a "major barrier" to employment. 

Rui Vieira/PA Wire
Businesses believe vocational and technical routes are being overlooked

Neil Carberry, CBI Director for Employment and Skills, said: "This report reflects businesses’ long-standing concerns that vocational and technical routes are overlooked, when they can be launch-pads to a successful and highly paid career.

"Providing young people with more routes into high-skilled, higher-paying roles – as well as recruiting from a diverse base, and helping employees with appropriate training, mentoring and on-going support – will help to fill the gaps in our labour market.

"Effective careers advice, coupled with a greater choice of quality routes into high-skilled jobs at secondary level, will ensure that those who don’t take the ‘traditional’ route through university will not be forgotten by the labour market and can contribute meaningfully to the UK’s prosperity."

Neil Hall / Reuters
Many young people "are simply not being adequately prepared for the world of work"

While Kirstie Donnelly, Managing Director of City & Guilds, said: "How many more Parliamentary inquiries and reports will there be before politicians wake up to the problem? If we want to see a change, we need to vastly improve careers advice in schools.

"If we don’t improve careers advice and involve employers at an earlier stage in education, we will indeed fail a generation of young people.

"They will continue to be underprepared for employment and the country as a whole will lose out."

We will invest £70million in our careers strategy over the course of this parliament to transform the quality of careers education.Department for Education

Responding on behalf of the government, the Department for Education said that the number of young people not in education or training is "the lowest on record".

A spokesperson said: "We have introduced a more rigorous curriculum so every child learns the basic skills they need such as English and maths so they can go on to fulfil their potential whether they are going into the world of work or continuing their studies.  

"We will invest £70million in our careers strategy over the course of this parliament to transform the quality of careers education.

"We have also set up the Careers & Enterprise Company to bring young people into contact with employers and develop closer links with employers so they can play a greater role in preparing young people for the world of work."