Announcements today to tackle the UK’s growing social mobility problem by Justine Greening are welcomed by the National Youth Agency.
Particularly welcome is the emphasis on creating a gold standard alternative to A levels. Funding has long been concentrated on A levels followed by a degree, with further education paying the price with huge budget cuts. This has allowed many young people to slip through the net, failing to fulfil their potential in low paid, dead end jobs or long term unemployed. It will be a huge win to get T levels right.
The Secretary of State also called for greater collaboration and joint ownership of the plan, inviting schools, colleges, teachers, employers, businesses to pool their efforts. NYA would like to add to the list youth organisations, youth workers, youth services.
Youth work can help buoy young people up to achieve more. Young people have talent and imagination, they need support from adults to make the most of their abilities. Youth work can be the vital ingredient that helps achieve that – particularly for disadvantaged young people who may not get much family support. Having someone believe in you and be there to talk through options can help young people make the right decisions for their future. It can also help young people stick at things when it feels easier to quit and having a supportive person around who understands young people’s needs could be the difference between a bright future or long term unemployment.
We’re not claiming that youth work alone is the silver bullet to social mobility. But an adult who can help young people understand themselves, see their own potential but doesn’t expect anything in return can be a huge support in navigating difficult and life changing career decisions.