Leading training provider is calling for employability skills to be taught in the classroom to help combat rising youth unemployment.

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) puts youth unemployment at just under million – its highest level since the early 1990s. In response to this issue, Working Links, which delivers programmes across Britain to help get people back to work, has made a series of recommendations to reduce the high level of 16-24 year-olds out of work and improve the problem of long term unemployment.

Mike Lee, Working Links’ Director of Skills and Young People, said: “In the current economic climate, young people are among the most vulnerable to long term unemployment. With little or no track record of employment, this group is at high risk of being out of work, and faces greater challenges to entering the labour market the longer they are jobless.

“Due to a variety of factors, an increasing number of young people are finding themselves not in education, employment or training. These young people are often very bright, intelligent and articulate – but many just don’t have the right skills or know-how to find work.

“To improve the situation there needs to be more correlation between mainstream further and higher education courses and the labour market. Young people are not getting the messages about jobs and what employers want clearly enough– the expert information that we have needs to be fed down into schools, colleges and careers advisers.”

The organisation’s own research, taken from its Learning a Living report*, shows that 68% of young people are worried about their job prospects and also feel that they are not getting enough advice from schools on vocational courses and qualifications. Only 24% of school leavers surveyed were given advice on Apprenticeships and vocational training while 70% received information about college courses.

In response to the findings of the report, Working Links is making the following policy recommendations to the government to support the continued focus on Apprenticeships and vocational training to help more young people into work. Working Links recommends that the government should:

· Place a statutory obligation on schools to teach employability skills through the mainstream curriculum
· Place a legal duty on schools to explain the full educational offer (including Apprenticeships) available to young people of all abilities
· Improve efforts to promote Apprenticeships to young people
· Fund more pre-Apprenticeship training to expand access to apprenticeships
· Pilot a payment by results programme for Apprenticeships within the Work Programme to help those furthest from the labour market
· Ensure these measures are extended to small businesses (47% of apprentices are employed by businesses which employ fewer than 25 people)
· Do more to tackle the low levels of literacy and numeracy which employers feel are an issue for some young people – but not at the expense of the soft skills employers value most