A disproportionate number of young people are unemployed, but work placements help many to start careers

Through Movement to Work over 70,000 work placements have been completed, with over 50% of young people not previously in education, employment or training progressing into jobs, apprenticeships or returning to education.


Hundreds of thousands of young people are unemployed, far more than in other age groups. Many are trapped in a ‘no-experience, no job’ cycle. Around 800,000 are not in employment, education or training. And amongst these are thousands without the networks that enable them to take part in work placements to see what work is like and develop ambition.



Movement to Work unlocks these young people’s potential by encouraging organisations of all shapes and sizes to offer work-placement and other career opportunities; this is not just the right thing to do for young people, it’s the right thing to do for organisations to do in terms of investment, morale and their part in society.


Training young people and helping them into work is an imperative for all organisations, commercial or otherwise. Through Movement to Work any organisation can provide the experience, skills and confidence to help young people support themselves, their communities and ultimately the whole of society.


What is Movement to Work?


Movement to Work is a not-for-profit coalition of the UK’s leading employers, civil society and Government. We are tackling youth unemployment and bringing about systemic change by investing in the future of our economy, getting young people into jobs. We have a diverse membership, made up of public and private sector organisations of all sizes, across many industries. Additionally, we draw on the collective expertise of our NGO partners and are backed by the CBI, DWP, and TUC.


Why should organisations join Movement to Work and begin giving young people a chance?


Movement to Work inspires young people to change their lives through positive encounters with work and inspires employers to provide these encounters. Our members are in a unique position to bring about lasting change, by creating work-experience opportunities that unlock young people’s potential.


  • Through Movement to Work over 70,000 work placements have been completed to date, with over 50% of young people progressing into jobs, apprenticeships or returning to education. There is no cost to joining.
  • We’re not just about placements, some of our members have invested in training to bring young people not previously in education, employment or training more directly into meaningful careers.
  • We offer a specialist resource: our delivery and referral partner network provides organisations with expertise to make a difference by advising on talent sourcing and placement delivery.
  • We have deepened our relationship with the Government, offering a collective voice and taking an active position on matters of policy, in particular the Apprenticeship Levy (see overleaf).
  • Placements that lead to jobs make for lower recruitment costs.
  • Passing on skills and mentoring young people drives up the morale of current workers.
  • Brexit provides a further opportunity for organisations to offer opportunities to young British people.


The Apprenticeship Levy


The introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy provides a positive incentive for Levy-paying employers to increase their investment in apprenticeships.  This is desirable, apprenticeships are important in reducing youth unemployment, and provide significant benefits for employers, employees and society.


However, the Apprenticeship Levy, in its present form, could draw employers’ resources away from other pre-employment training, including work placements.  A CBI survey found that 27% of businesses will cut back on non-apprenticeship training due to the Levy.


This will have a substantial negative impact on the provision of work placements for young people who are not in education, employment or training, which are vital for tackling youth unemployment; work placements offer invaluable experience and opportunities to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and help them overcome barriers to employment.


The Government recognises the usefulness of work placements.  The Post-16 Skills Plan, announced in July 2016, recommends that high-quality work placements should form an integral part of each of the technical education qualifications to be introduced in 2020 (‘T-Levels’). The new Youth Obligation, currently being rolled-out across the Jobcentre Plus network, also ensures that 18 to 21-year-olds claiming Universal Credit will be required to undertake a work placement (or an alternative) if they have not found employment within six months.


The high positive outcome rate achieved by young people who take part in Movement to Work’s placements demonstrates that pre-employment training provides tangible benefits for young people facing employment barriers.  


Movement to Work’s proposals to improve the Apprenticeship Levy


At present, funding can only be used for the provision of apprenticeships: the Government should introduce greater flexibility in the use of Levy funding by allowing employers to use a proportion of their Levy funding to pay for other forms of skills training, including work placements. This would allow these employers to make the best use of their allocated funding while still meeting the Government’s ambition to deliver a ‘skills revolution’ for the UK as we leave the European Union.


This will ensure that maximum use is made of Levy funding, at present some Levy-paying businesses cannot spend all their Levy allocation on apprenticeships, while also deepening the talent pool by giving the opportunity to young people to apply for an apprenticeship who may not have otherwise had the experience or qualifications to do so.


There is no reason why this should significantly reduce apprenticeship provision.  Businesses that can offer large numbers of apprenticeships will still be able to do so, while those whose business model does not allow them to make full use of their Levy funding will be able utilise these resources in other ways.  In other words, the net effect of allowing increased flexibility in the use of Apprenticeship Levy funding will be an overall increase in skills spending by businesses, as currently unused Levy funds are diverted to support other skills training.


The current inflexible approach to the use of Levy funding undermines the effectiveness of the overall apprenticeship agenda by offering perverse incentives to employers.  The change we are proposing will disincentivise negative practices such as rebadging existing forms of training as apprenticeships and pursuing a ‘quantity over quality’ approach to apprenticeships to fully utilise Levy funding allocations.

Author: Editorial Team

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