The pandemic doesn’t discriminate against anyone and has impacted young people and adults alike. While the UK is searching for a soft landing after giving COVID a fight, young people between 11-19 of age need to be carried along.
Over the lockdown, young people have lost avenues for professional learning. The restrictive pandemic booted out traditional UK work experience, making young people’s aspirations questionable. However, online work experience is calming the waves as the new normal.
To provide answers for the questionable experience, Speakers for Schools commissioned 3 YouGov surveys to discover young people’s attitudes towards professional education and aspirations post-pandemic. The study also reveals employers’ and politicians’ thoughts on young people’s aspirations in the UK. This survey comprised 2,000 young people (11-19 age bracket), 100 business leaders, and 100 MPs.
What is It that Young People Think Outside Mental Health?
Did you know that mental health problems affect about 16.67% of young people in the UK? This includes conduct disorder, anxiety, and depression from their experiences. Unfortunately, about 75% of young people experiencing a mental health problem are not receiving the needed help.
- The priorities: As expected, young people between 16 and 19 consider mental health important for reconciling the lost time during COVID. However, mental health is not the only priority keeping young goons entertained.
- Improving young people’s confidence: 53-63% of young people also think that getting UK work experience in a relevant field of expertise is vital for their career confidence.
- The barrier keeping UK youngsters: It is important to note the setbacks keeping young people from professional training. 47-55% say accessing work experience opportunities is the biggest barrier, emphasising the need for virtual work experience (VWEX).
How Many Young People Think Employers and Politicians Understand Them Well?
Employers and politicians are thinking they know young people well. Employers (91 percent) and politicians (95 percent) agree that the pandemic hit young people moderately to significantly.
- Employers are feeling they understand young people well. Employers (67 per cent) believe they know the hopes, needs and aspirations of young people. A majority of young people disagree with their thought as only 23 per cent believe employers understand their hopes, needs and aspirations well.
- What could be done? What could have gone wrong? 66 percent of employers obtain insightful data on young people through their relationships with friends and family who may not know exactly what young people experience.
- Politicians are feeling they understand young people well. Politicians are also thinking they know young people. Politicians (87 percent) believe they know the needs, hopes, and aspirations of young people. Unfortunately, only 11 per cent of young people agree that politicians know their hopes, needs and aspirations well.
- What could be done? The data difference is a result of a weak link between politicians and young people. 84-86% of politicians obtain insightful data from young people’s family, friends, schools or constituents. Politicians can extend their source of reference, seek insights outside traditional networks and get directly in touch with young people.
Virtual Work Experience: How Young People Can Make Up for the Time Lost
The easing lockdown means the UK is gradually finding its feet and reinventing traditional work experience. Nonetheless, many facets, including some business operations, are still being crippled, and some are folding up altogether, meaning traditional work experience placements are being canceled or shifted.
Moreover, even the few available placement opportunities are not fully leveraged by young people. Suppose opportunities are available. Young people may be required to self-isolate, which is a barrier.
There is a problem of availability and accessibility of traditional placements due to transportation costs and other expenses deterring young people from participating. Due to the current experience, employers are limiting the number of numbers in physical placements.
Virtual work experience provides an entirely different and accommodating experience. It eliminates geography problems, reduces costs by a wide margin, and lets employers and young people conveniently meet online—no cause for quarantine.
Moreover, Virtual WEX brings flexibility, which allows employers to upscale their outreach, increasing the number of placements and extending the catchment area for young people in the UK.
Government, Employers and Charity Organisations Can Aid the Campaign
90% of politicians know government support is important to aid life-changing work experience campaigns for young people. If the government relates closely with young people, they will discover where they could be lagging in collecting insightful and actionable data. The government can also work closely with employers and organizations to make virtual work experience dominant and accessible to young people in the UK.
Speakers for Schools, for example, is networking over 700 employers and working with nearly 4,000 state secondary schools and colleges. They have been able to offer over 56,000 online placements through its Virtual Work Experience program with many success stories, and intend to achieve an increased number with the right support.
Moreover, they have partnered with UK Youths and Young Enterprise to launch Youth Card, which lets young people gain access to free work experience online. With more interest from capable organizations, VWEX can become the norm amidst this new normal.