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Speed read: Top 5 takeaways from “Taking decisive action on youth employment”

NCFE Chief Executive Officer, David Gallagher and Strategic Advisor to NCFE’s Board, Matt Hamnett, discussing why we are taking decisive action on youth employment through our new initiative.

Here are the top 5 takeaways to help you quickly understand why we are launching our ‘go the distance’ initiative, what impact it will have, and how you can get involved.

1. Coronavirus and the UK economy – a long road to recovery?

Due to the pandemic, UK gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 20% between April and June (the biggest drop since records began). Even as businesses reopen, GDP is still a sixth lower than it was in February 2020 (pre coronavirus levels).

The last three recessions saw the employment rate take between 3-7 years to recover to pre-recession levels, because of the time it takes rebounding growth to translate into new jobs created. This suggests that even if the recovery is relatively rapid, there will still need to be a sustained focus on jobs.

2. Data shows young people are the hardest hit in work and education

  • 17 year olds had the highest rate of furlough, with 60% of this age group being placed on leave.
  • In the second quarter, unemployment-related benefits claimed by 16-24 year olds increased by 122% – more than any other age group.
  • From the end of March to the end of May, there were 26,000 apprenticeship starts compared to 50,000 in the same period last year, and only 36% of apprenticeship starters were under 25 years old.
  • Hospitality, travel and retail - key employers of young people - will find it hardest to recover due to social distancing, local lockdowns and travel restrictions still in place.

3. Government support and initiatives

  • Government articulated its response to the looming youth employment challenge in ‘a plan for jobs’ at the beginning of July.
  • The opportunity guarantee: designed to give young people ‘the chance of an apprenticeship or an in-work placement’ to help them develop their skills and work. However, there is controversy around whether this can in fact be a ‘guarantee’, given the requirement for businesses to offer placements for young people to take up.
  • From August to January, businesses will receive £3,000 for supporting a 16-18 year old apprentice, £2,000 for supporting a 19- 24 year old apprentice and £1,500 for supporting an apprentice aged 25 and over.
  • An injection of money for traineeships - an additional £111m invested to support up to around 37,000 new traineeship opportunities.
  • Providers will receive £1,500 for each traineeship they support, a 55% increase on the previous payment of £970.
  • Employers will receive an incentive payment of £1,000 for each trainee they support (up to a maximum of ten trainees).

4. We have to take action – now

To support our economic recovery and help young people prepare for, quickly find, and stay in work, we’re launching our go the distance initiative.

Through go the distance we’ll:

  • draw actionable insights to help providers design and deliver brilliant youth employment programmes;
  • prepare substantial qualification and curriculum bundles which reflect these insights;
  • offer substantial, operational support to providers to help them design, mobilise and manage employability provisions.

5. Join us and help make a difference

We believe that to truly make a difference, we need to draw upon the determination and passion that exists across the education sector. If you share our determination to act, we’d love to work with you.

To read the essay in full and find out more about our go the distance initiative and how you can collaborate with us to help us change the futures for thousands of young people visit our go the distance webpage or email


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