Director of the Trust Christine Townley on how disadvantaged young people are still missing out on job opportunities.
Most people will be surprised by the OECD’s latest findings that Britain has some of the lowest social mobility in the developed world. Sadly, I am not. Every day the Construction Youth Trust works in communities where we see disadvantaged young people missing out on chances for employment and further education. This month’s government paper, the Milburn Report, also highlights a lack of progress in key areas such as: awareness and aspiration raising in schools, effective careers guidance, meaningful work placements and inclusive recruitment practices. This lack of progress needs to be addressed.
Many job opportunities are inaccessible to groups of young people and I want to see this changed. Whilst the Construction Youth Trust works within communities to offer accredited courses in construction skills to increase employment chances, more still needs to be done. More funding needs to be channeled through organisations such as ourselves in order to give disadvantaged young people careers advice and help them access job and further education opportunities. Only with this type of work will higher rates of social mobility be a reality in the UK.
One of our programmes, ‘Budding Brunels’ goes into communities with high levels of unemployment and helps Year 12 students to increase their awareness of professional careers in the construction industry. It gives them an unparalleled level of industry access over the course of 3 days including site visits and the possibility of work placements. Following project completion beneficiaries stand to gain from a network of contacts established through the course and subsequent work placements, and are eligible to apply for Construction Youth Trust bursaries to support further construction-related study. By providing this intensive level of support, the Trust sees this programme as uniquely placed to help ensure all students capable of filling the UK’s skills shortage in specialist areas, regardless of socio-economic background, are able to succeed.
This year we are running 15 ‘Budding Brunels’ courses in partnership with major contractors, delivering accredited outcomes for over 450 young people across the country. Our work will make a difference for these young people – but many more need to be helped before our social mobility rates rise. I am hopeful for the future because of the work of organisations such as Construction Youth Trust and our partnerships with employers. I hope in 10 years time disadvantaged young people will have the same employment and further education opportunities as their peers.