Five steps City firms should take to tackle London’s youth unemployment problem

Mark Boleat
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Youth unemployment is significantly higher than the average for the whole population (Source: Getty)

Just as companies have been breaking down the detail of last week’s Budget, the City Corporation has launched a new report on youth unemployment – a subject which remains a real challenge in London.

The capital has the third highest rate of 16-24 year olds out of work in England, with nearly one in five young Londoners unemployed. This is despite the growth in the UK economy, which has resulted in a reduction in overall unemployment.

Youth unemployment has a cost to the community and the economy. It is one of the biggest drivers of social exclusion and disadvantage today and I believe that more can be done to prevent individuals from falling through the net.

We urgently need to provide young people with the skills that employers are looking for if we are to address the current disconnect between skills and business needs in London and the UK.

The City’s Business Guide highlights the vital role that City institutions play in reducing youth unemployment in London. But they can go further.

The report was put together by an expert panel of senior people from City businesses, Livery companies, voluntary and community organisations working with young people, London local authorities, and the City Corporation.

This report focuses on five key steps we have created for City institutions to follow which will help them tackle youth unemployment in London:

First, walk the talk. City institutions can act as good role models, making sure that their own support for unemployed young people is the best that it can be.

Second, target support where it is needed. Organisations seeking to become involved should focus on specific groups, like those young people with low qualifications, disabilities, young parents, or those with little or no work experience.

Third, collaboration. Partner with an organisation that has specific experience or expertise of working with young people to make sure that both the young person and the business itself receive the greatest possible benefit.

Fourth, small and local is beautiful. Smaller institutions can and do make highly targeted, high impact interventions and a number of larger organisations also take an effective “small and local” approach.

Fifth, monitor and evaluate. It is important that organisations are clear about what they are hoping to achieve from their support for young people: what would be a good outcome and how will it be measured?

Business needs to make the first move in tackling youth unemployment, and it will require a range of organisations to work in partnership with one another to be effective.

One of our valued partners is the Brokerage Citylink, which matches City businesses with talented state school pupils from across the capital. Not only do these internships offer students a chance to cultivate essential employability skills, but many have gone on to secure permanent jobs and form long-term links with their host companies.

I believe that together we can do more to support young people out of unemployment and into jobs – creating a more diverse and sustainable City and making sure that we get the maximum benefit from the talent of young Londoners.

For more information on the report, visit

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