Meeting the challenges: young people in the UK

What challenges are young people facing in the UK today? At our workshop event in April 2012 we sought to dig behind the headline challenges to understand the underlying issues that social innovators might be able to address...


  1. You can read more about the workshop as a whole in the blog post below, or check out our mindmap of challenges developed from discussions on the day.
  2. Onto the challenges...
  3. Youth unemployment

    In the UK, 1 million young people aged 16-24 are unemployed with one in five young people now not in employment, education or training. Young people have few opportunities to gain work experience or a first job, they face a culture of negativity and there are few role models supporting them into employment.
  4. Record high youth unemployment in UK (01Dec10)
  5. Youth unemployment is a global problem: In Spain and Greece over half of young people are unemployed.
  6. Young people tell their story
    Equality South West and Young Devon recently supported young people to tell their stories of unemployment. In the first few minutes of the video below young people outline how unemployment makes the feel and the limited opportunities they have ahead of them.
  7. Foot in the Door - Youth Unemployment Short Film
  8. So - youth unemployment is not only about not having a job and income - but also impacts on young people's self-esteem, and can lead to a sense of social isolation. 
  9. Promoting youth entrepreneurship

    One of the ways the the Government is hoping the youth unemployment figure will fall is by young people 'doing it for themselves' and setting up their own enterprise.
  10. It's easy to sit back and think of entrepreneurs as the people on The Apprentice, but many young people can go on to become hugely successful entrepreneurs (like these young people here).
  11. Skills, support and flexibility
    Often young people don't think they have the skills to start their own enterprise and the prospect can be daunting. Knowing where to look for funding can be difficult - particularly in terms of making a good idea into a viable business model. Having the flexibility to try, succeed or fail is also important with many young people on benefits stuck in a 'catch-22' situation and at risk of losing their minimal security.

    Increasing the support
    Richard Branson, founder of Virgin, says the "Government must do more to help young entrepreneurs"  in a report launched in 2011 called Control Shift. The report supported 5 key actions from building skills early, creating a collaborative culture, business and government financially supporting new enterprises and encouraging young people to try it for themselves. 

    The last minute of this short clip talks about the need for government and European policy to meet the needs of youth particularly at a time of recession, high unemployment and fierce competition.
  12. The EU-China Forum on Youth Entrepreneurship
  13. Young entrepreneurship can be (and often is) championed as a way out of the unemployment trap for young people, but its only possible when some of the barriers are removed. 
  14. Youth volunteering

    Young people are more likely that any other age group to be involved in informal volunteering and almost a quarter of young people volunteer in formal opportunities every month. Young people volunteer to learn new skills, make new friends, feel good and improve their CVs. 
  15. The film below was made, directed and produced by young people from Mouth that Roars about their experiences and thoughts of youth volunteering. 
  16. What's stopping people?
    Young people often don't know where to look for opportunities to get involved in their community and opportunities need to reflect the diversity of youth and their interests and skills. 

    As young people are now taking part in unpaid internships in the hope of further employment, the nature, motivations and perceptions of volunteering are changing. The opportunities that are available to young people need to reflect these changes.

    So, we can see that volunteering gives young people the chance to learn new things, met new people and contribute to society. However, it's difficult to find the right opportunities that   
  17. Youth exclusion from local decision making

    "Young people are well aware that the decisions politicians make affect them. Yet they also feel marginalised from the political system. This sense of exclusion can be tackled by providing real opportunities for young people to have a say in decisions that impact on their lives and communities." - Joseph Rowntree Foundation report

    The British Youth Council's research called 'The Big Listen' produced a report on young people involvement in local decision making. 

    82% believe it’s important to have an influence in decisions made in our local area, and three quarters of young people (75%) would like to have a greater influence on how their community is run, and what happens to local services. Yet, a far lower number of young people feel they can influence decisions being made at a neighbourhood and local level (54%) and only 30% feel able to influence decisions affecting the UK as a whole. 

  18. Young people, community leaders and youth workers from Wiltshire talk about the different young people's involvement has made. 
  19. Young people influencing decision making in Wiltshire
  20. Often young people don't get a chance to have their voices listened to by local decision makers. Of the statistics above, 40% of those who took part in the survey were involved in community participation projects and decision makers have always struggled to involve 'real' young people - those who don't traditionally join youth councils or forums.