Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - Singing from the same hymn sheet: youth choir raises awareness of unemployment issues in performance outside Parliament

A choir of un- and under-employed 18-24-year-olds have raised their voices in protest and song outside the Houses of Parliament to raise awareness of youth unemployment.

Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 8 October

Singing from the same hymn sheet: youth choir raises awareness of unemployment issues in performance outside Parliament


A choir of un- and under-employed 18-24-year-olds have raised their voices in protest and song outside the Houses of Parliament to raise awareness of youth unemployment.

Youth Voice Collective sang M People’s Proud in Victoria Tower Gardens, next to the Houses of Parliament, at 2pm on Monday afternoon as part of Channel 4’s online and TV series Battlefront. The programme follows the journey of four young campaigners trying to raise awareness of youth unemployment. In this case, journalism graduate Ava Patel was tasked with organising the choir and getting young people’s voices heard.

Ms Patel was unemployed for a year after graduating from Nottingham Trent University. She eventually found work in a call centre and volunteered at Bolton FM, presenting the mid-morning show, to develop her CV.

Like all the choir members, Ms Patel wanted to work, but found that companies that rejected her rarely gave feedback. She said that she instead repeatedly got a standard email response: “thank you for your application… unfortunately you’ve not been successful this time.”

Members of the choir said they thought that young people were seen as “job-shy” and “lazy" by the government.

In July the government announced the Youth Contract scheme which offers employers financial incentives for taking on young people and helps companies set up apprenticeship schemes. The government has stated it will invest £126 million over the next three years to support young people aged 16 to 17 who are not in education, employment or training in England.

Unemployment rates for 16-24 year olds dropped 0.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2012 (compared with the first quarter of 2011). But the number of young people who have been out of work for over a year has risen 264 per cent in the past year according to a report published by the Trade Union Congress.

The choir's performance coincided with the opening of the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham.

Ms Patel said that this was no coincidence, and added that she felt not enough was being done by the government to get more young people into work. The choir members have their own ideas about how things could be improved. These include:

  • Employers visiting schools to tell young people what skills are needed for the workplace
  • Face-to-face career advice
  • A “general education” year at university to give young people more time to think about career choices
  • Paid apprenticeship schemes

Choir member and single-mum Kelly El-Hage hopes Battlefront will open ministers’ eyes. “Not all young people are lazy,” she said. “They’re driven and want the chance to go forward.

“If we don’t get qualified or get jobs how is the world going to tick on?”

Members of the Youth Voice Connective choir hold placards showing the number of British young people not in employment, education or training (according to figures published by the Institute for Public Policy Research).



Questions for discussion


For primary:

  • What job would you like to do when you are older?
  • Do you think that singing is a good way to get people's attention?

For secondary:

  • These young people are singing to raise awareness. Can you think of any other ways they could make their voices heard?
  • Why is it important to tackle youth unemployment? What could the government do to help?



Related resources


Apprenticeships

  • Help students prepare for apprenticeship schemes with a detailed resource pack from TESGA.

Who do you think you are?

  • Personal SWOT analysis can really help focus students’ CV writing, this EdComs guide includes this and more on applying for jobs.

Putting it all together

  • Calm those interview nerves with this EdComs lesson plan pack on preparing for interviews.

Passport to work

  • Starter activity to make CV writing less daunting for students.

Further news resources


First News front page

  • Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.

Write all about it

  • Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.

What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

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