What we can do to help young people enter the workplace

How can we prepare young people for work? Angela Middleton tells us.

Recent research by City Year UK has shown that four out of five young people feel that they were not taught the right skills to get a job while at school. This rings true. Young people finish their education and find it hard to get a job.

Some are unable to decide what they should be looking for based on their skills, while some haven’t even been equipped with the ability to know how to approach job-seeking. These issues need to be rectified.

This is not the school system’s fault. Schools are driven to ensure that pupils get the necessary education and this is always going to be priority. They don’t have the infrastructure in place to teach students the necessary job hunting skills.

We have to encourage young people to explore the options available to them, such as apprenticeships and traineeships.

There are ways for teachers to embed workplace skills into the academic curriculum so young people can leave the education system feeling well-rounded. This includes equipping teachers with skills needed to help students create a life plan that is in line with their career goals. It is also vital to bring careers advisors into schools to help young people find the right path for them.

This needs to be addressed as a priority. Our education system is not working as well as we want it to and even though there are things that the Government is putting in place to try to address this, City Year UK’s findings show they are not working as intended.

We have to encourage young people to explore the options available to them, such as apprenticeships and traineeships. They are designed to teach people the skills they need to get a job and train them for their desired profession.

Through no fault of their own, this is something that young people are only beginning to be aware of.


There is a common – and mistaken – assumption that young people wish to continue with academia after school or college. In fact, there is a trend for young people to go straight to university because that is what is expected of them.

University doesn’t necessarily prepare students for work. Some graduates can be none the wiser about their future after so many years of education – and no more so than those who leave the system at 16. They might be more academic, but they are still not aware of their capabilities or options.

Traineeships and apprenticeships are equally relevant to young people, whether they leave school early or if they have a degree. This is what everyone has to remember when it comes to education and the path it creates.

It’s about getting young people to a point where they are able to make good decisions about what they want to do in life and help them take the first step on the career ladder in a profession that suits their individual skillset.

We need to equip young people with the skills necessary for a job. Ultimately, it is about ensuring we are nurturing the next generation of employees to be the best they can be, regardless of when they leave the education system. 


About the author

Angela Middleton is chairman of MiddletonMurray



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