Labour party

The Crises for Young People

The polarisation of society in aspects of wealth, education, prospects and voting habits used to be aligned firmly along class or location but today a greater divide can be found along generation lines. The old and the young do not have much in common.

The young earned less during their early careers.

They will spend more on rental housing costs while the old benefit from the accumulated wealth in their owned homes and the policies required to redistribute this capital would need a significant shift in the direction of travel across Western economies.

The trust in the young of the welfare state is so low, crowdfunding is their go to option.

Much has been written on the appeal to younger voters of the 2017 Labour Party manifesto with its pledges of scrapping tuition fees, affordable housing and more secure employment.

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What this means for the life chances for young people is covered in fascinating detail in a new book “The Crises for Young People; Generational Inequalities in Education, Work, Housing & Welfare” by Andy Green, Professor of Comparative Social Science, UCL Institute of Education. A free download, I found it an engrossing read, especially on the challenges facing this generation as they embark on their careers (page 60).

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Which is a valuable spark to remember the value of Careers and employer engagement work with young people. It can be a disruptive force for good and enable empowerment for individuals to navigate the tide pushing back against them.

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Your #GE2017 CEIAG manifesto roundup

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One year after the European referendum and two years after the last General Election you would’ve thought that the British public had earned a summer off from electioneering and yet here we are. The build up to #GE2017 is well underway.

At the time of writing the three main parties have all now released their manifestos so here’s quick summary of what they include in regard to CEIAG. I will update with any inclusions of CEIAG in the manifestos of other parties as and when I see them.

Conservatives

You can find the whole manifesto here, a Schools Week summary of the school policies here and an FE Week summary of the skills and technical education policies here.

CEIAG does not get a specific mention in the policy. Plenty of the school, Apprenticeship, HE and FE policies will impact on the work of CEIAG practitioners (not least the UCAS style portal for technical education mooted in the tweet above) but nothing in regards to Careers Advice in schools or the continuing work of the Careers & Enterprise Company (CEC). Considering the organisation was set up under a Conservative Education Secretary, and that the party is by far the favourite to win a majority in the Election, this would raise concerns over the long-term future of the organisation beyond its current funding commitment.

The Labour Party

CEIAG gets two specific mentions in the Labour Party Manifesto.

Both are less than forthcoming about the details behind the promises. A campaign to spread the message about “creative” careers is very different to the STEM focused campaigns of the last few years. How this campaign and the wider improvement would be achieved, what structures, guidance or funding it would involve are all left to the imagination. Again no specific mention of employer engagement or the work of the CEC. You can find a summary of the wider schools policies here.

The Liberal Democrats

Along similar lines to the Labour commitments, the Lib Dem manifesto  offers one pledge to “improve” careers advice for young people and one with a more focused detail. The Lib Dems plump for STEM promotion while the links between employers and schools mention is an easy win as it only requires the work of the CEC to be continued for it to be achieved. Again, how this improvement will be achieved or what it would cost are not mentioned.

Manifestos are tricky documents that walk a fine line between detail on commitments and broader scene setting of the kind of country you wish voters to aspire to. It’s heartening that CEIAG is at least mentioned in the Labour and Lib Dem offerings while the omission from the Conservative document is a sign of the treatment of the sector in the most recent and Coalition parliaments. Will it also be a sign of the health of the sector under the forthcoming Goverment?

If you haven’t registered to vote, you can do so here: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote until midnight on the 22nd May. Please do so, your voice counts.

UPDATE – May 25th

UKIP

Today The United Kingdom Independence Party have released their manifesto which contains, comparatively, quite a substantive section on CEIAG

Introducing “practical employability lessons into the careers’ syllabus” sounds good until you remember that there isn’t a “careers syllabus” so it would be tricky to add something to it. It’s nice to see the list of soft skills but not so nice to see the provincialism of the “local job market” focus. CEIAG should take into account local Labour Market Intelligence but it should also expand horizons beyond the well known. A quick Google to test the claim “Entrepreneurship education is becoming increasingly common in the USA” throws up research which does bear this out but it is not explained why the USA is used as the benchmark as their overall education performance is below average. Much there already happens either through local partnerships or more formalised networks such as the CEC, the mention of a “careers syllabus” could be taken as a formal promise to reinstate statutory Careers education yet the mechanisms for achieving this in a Academy driven system (with opt outs from an National Curriculum) are not included.

Young people, CEIAG and the 2015 Election

As we continue to steam roll into 2015 I wanted to take a look at how CEIAG might play a part in, what will no doubt be, one of the biggest events of the year; the General Election. #GE2015. Indecision 2015. However it will come to be termed, current polling suggests the 2015 election promises to be a muddle of epic proportions as the first past the post system grinds to a halt of probable coalition in the face of general voter distrust of elected members and entrenched division between areas of the country.

CEIAG as an area of state provision covers multiple policy issues that politicians hope people consider when deciding their vote. Education and employability skills, job availability and opportunities for promotion, the wider economy and social mobility would be all areas of policy advocates would say CEIAG would impact positively. To what extent careers education and guidance is in voter’s minds when they are expressing satisfaction or concern about any of those issues is open to debate (none to minimal, I would guess) but, if I take for granted that I’m preaching to the converted on the importance of CEIAG, I thought it would be interesting to see where it might align with voter’s concerns and how this is influencing politicians.

Of course, the school age client group where most of the recent focus on the lack of careers provision has come are too young to vote. Even with Labour’s promise to lower the voting age to 16, 2015 is a battle that will shape their future but in which they will have no say. Even so, all parties know that Education is an important policy area for parents and so have obfuscated their funding plans for this area behind terms (Tory: “the cash sum that follows your child into the school will not be cut” Labour: “The next Labour government will protect the overall education budget“) that they hope will woo votes but in reality both these Conservative and Labour pledges equate to a cut in funding. When reports are clearly stating that improving CEIAG will need increased funding, this isn’t a good start.

We do know that parents are increasingly keen for their children to stay in education Post 16 (fig 4.4)

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so policies that improve the chances of making successful transitions at 16 would be welcomed by those with voting power.

Overall though, it appears that the parents surveyed there do have different priorities to younger generations. The “grey vote” is focussed on

The current NHS crisis appears to be a key concern for older people as 86% said that politicians should be focussing on health and social care. 79% of over-55s highlighted tackling terrorism, compared to 69% who want political leaders to focus on the economy. Concerns surrounding pensions and savings were highlighted by 51% of those surveyed.

It’s very different for younger people

 

The high priority those in the 18-25 age bracket place on issues such as living costs, unemployment, the gap between the rich and poor and tuition fees shows that the transition from education to employment and those tricky first steps into the labour market play heavy on their mind. To those struggling to make headway in a post 2008 jobs market, the media’s political obsessions of the EU and immigration must seem like concerns from a different world.

As this age group are the recent and soon to be leavers from full-time and higher education they should be, in theory, those most able to access a structured CEIAG offer. Support that addresses their concerns, you would imagine, would be welcomed by this cohort.

That does not automatically mean though that politicians will be writing their manifestos with these concerns at the top of their promise list. Young people are notoriously reticent to actually vote compared to older demographics who do so in far greater numbers.

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It’s estimated that around 3 million youth votes are either undecided or up for grabs this time around and polling from that age group shows a significant shift in the parties they would vote for.

But even if all of these potential younger voters did tick a box in May, as the linked Telegraph article above notes,

According to the ONS, there are 5.9 million people aged between 18 and 24. But there are 11.1 million people aged 65 and over.

Yes, old people are more likely to vote. But there are also lots more of them. And since democracy often comes down to a numbers game, it will take more than increased turnout among the young to end the political dominance of the old. Sorry, kids.

so it might not be enough to force their concerns to suddenly be addressed with any greater urgency.

Which all clearly explains why policies such as triple lock pensions, pensioner bonds and universal pensioner benefits such as the Winter Fuel Allowance are political no go areas when cuts are being discussed by the Conservatives. It’s frankly staggering then that the YouGov/Anchor Trust polling quoted above also shows that only 13% of grey voters think politicians represent their views.

The two parties that the younger demographics are putting their support behind have so far made, what would be called at best, tentative proposals for policies under the CEIAG umbrella. Labour has indicated that it would reintroduce mandatory key stage 4 work experience and Tristram Hunt has included his wish to improve careers advice in speeches. The education policies of the Green Party meanwhile include no mention of careers advice and the transition from education to work is only covered with more general ideals such as the need for clear vocational routes at 14 and their desire for much greater life long learning opportunities.

The incumbent parties meanwhile have their own projects in this policy area. The Conservatives plan to expand the Apprenticeship program but will cut both wider and targeted benefits for 18-21 year olds to fund it. Considering how the numbers of current Apprenticeships have skewed towards older workers, the net £ loss to this age group would probably be larger than the initial reading of the headline suggests. Tories would also point to the new Careers company that will be up and running in spring 2015 as evidence of their plans for CEIAG over the next parliament. For the Lib Dems, the ongoing funding of £2.5 billion for the pupil premium will take centre stage of their offer for education.

With the meat on the bones of the party manifestos still to come, all of this leaves CEIAG in a forlorn place. As a policy area, it offers possible links and solutions to issues that mostly concern voters who don’t vote and, even if they did, it’s likely that any intergenerational battle for political supremacy would be won by the sheer number of older folk. You might conclude then that any interested parties who believed that any substantial investment in CEIAG could be a solution to the issues young people see as facing them, have a huge job of persuasion on their hands: to convince older voters to not just vote on their own concerns.