1m young people 'locked out' of education and training

New research calls for a £4.6bn 10-year strategy to tackle the number of young people who are not in education, employment or training
4th January 2021, 3:49pm
Kate Parker


1m young people 'locked out' of education and training

Youth Unemployment: 1m Young People 'locked Out' Of Education

Around one million young people could be locked out of education, employment and training as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the Learning and Work Institute has warned today. 

In a new report, Unleashing talent: levelling up opportunity for young people, the institute found that the number of young people out of work for 12 months or more could surge to 290,000 - a higher figure than in the last two recessions.

The report, published as the final part of the institute's Youth Commission, sets out a blueprint for change and calls for a £4.6bn ten-year strategy for youth unemployment. 

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The report calls for a boost in the number of young people who gain A-level equivalent qualification by the age of 25 - fewer than two thirds do currently - and for a guarantee which ensures all young people are offered a job, training place or apprenticeship.

The institute also says that one in three young people should take part in an apprenticeship, and calls for a youth allowance to be introduced in Universal Credit. The report also urges an increase to the minimum wage. 

'A lost generation'

Stephen Evans, chief executive of Learning and Work Institute, said that to avoid a lost generation, the underlying weaknesses in education and employment support must be tackled. 

He said: "That includes investing in technical education, a renaissance in apprenticeships, and urgent action to respond to the youth employment crisis. The cost of inaction is high, and extra investment will more than pay for itself. Let's make the 2020s a decade or recovery and renewal."  

Labour's shadow education secretary of Kate Green said that without action, "a generation of young people will be condemned to insecure, low paid and unfulfilling work which wastes individuals' talents and economic potential".

She said: "With youth unemployment now rising at an alarming rate, harnessing the potential of young people has never been more important. Action is urgently needed if we are to avoid the next generation suffering long-term damage to their labour market prospects.

"This important report is a major contribution to the debate on how the government could build back better from the coronavirus pandemic by creating good quality jobs and training programmes for young people with clear plans for their progression, which would benefit employers, employees and the wider economy."

Recommendations in full 

World class ambition

By 2030 more than 90 per cent of 25 year olds should be qualified to level 2 and three quarters qualified to level 3. 


A ten year strategy for young people's education and employment, underpinned by ambitious devolution deals which devolve more responsibilities tied to improved outcomes, requiring providers to deliver in line with local plans. 

Raising 16-18 participation

Increase the funding rate to £5,000, and develop clear learning and career pathways. Continue with T levels, but retain other qualifications where there is a risk of a postcode lottery of opportunity.

Increase apprenticeships

Aim for one in three young people to take part in an apprenticeship by age 30. Supported by a £5,000 payment to employer for each new young apprentice they employ in the pandemic, directly funding apprenticeships for 16-to 18-year-olds and considering ring-fencing some of the levy for young people.

Diverse higher education routes 

Focus on growing higher technical routes and HE access at all ages. Widen access by introducing maintenance grants of around £3,000 per year and evaluating access initiatives.

Tackling unemployment

Widen eligibility for Kickstart to young people not on benefits and better join it up with apprenticeships and skills support. Introduce a Job Guarantee to create a further six month paid job for those out of work the longest.

A new Universal Credit Youth Allowance for 16-24 year olds

Work coaches would agree action plans to combine working toward a qualification up to level 3 with looking for work. 16-to 17-year-olds, not generally eligible for benefits today, would be eligible for a £30 per week allowance to find work and learn up to level 3.

Living standards

End low pay by increasing the minimum wage for 21-to 24-year-olds to living wage levels, raise other age-related rates and abolish the apprentice rate. Increase benefits by at least earnings or inflation, a new double lock.

Career support

Support careers through a Career Advancement Service for young people in low paid work, a £5,000 Learning Account, and grants of up to £1,000 from a Transitions Fund to help with the costs of moving job or area

Foundation of skills

Invest to make the requirement for young people in education to study English and maths to level 2 to age 18 work better. Build community action and cultural activity further into study programmes. Count functional skills toward apprenticeship training and explore incentives for employers to invest in basic skills.

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