Education is not fair. Young people from lower-income families are almost twice as likely to not be in employment, education or training (NEET) aged 16 compared to their more affluent peers and are also less likely to go to university.

Fair Education Alliance

Despite a growing economy and improvements in education, inequality is widening

There is increasing polarisation between the highest and lowest incomes in Lambeth.

Three out of five Lambeth children are growing up in poverty[1].

Lambeth is ethnically diverse: 85 per cent of secondary school pupils are non-white British, but Black Caribbean residents say they feel excluded from the benefits of economic growth[3].

While Lambeth schools have improved, students from poor families still under-achieve  and the achievement gap increases post-16, especially for Caribbean pupils 

A recent report found racial inequality remained “entrenched” in Britain.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission, which analysed existing evidence, said black graduates earn on average 23% less than white ones and are far more likely to be unemployed.

Lambeth has seen a significant improvement at GCSE achievement, following a sustained period of focus since 1997. Results at GCSE are now consistently above the national average.

However this progress is not reflected in post-16 results, where the borough continues to lag behind the national average.

The picture for Caribbean pupils, an underachieving group, is varied. At KS1 the gap with Lambeth narrowed, while at KS2 they made no progress in closing the gap. GCSE results fell back this year, widening the gap.

There continues to be a wide gap in attainment between children from low income families (who have a free school meal) and those who pay.

Source (Education Scrutiny Committee)

The future economy is digital  

The UK economy will need 745,000 additional digital skilled workers in the next two years.

46% of leading tech figures believe the biggest challenge facing the tech sector is a shortage of skilled workers.

Despite this need, young Londoners and women, in particular, struggle to take advantage of the jobs available.


Young people have not benefited from the upturn in jobs

There are currently over 700,000 young people out of work. (Citizens UK Good Jobs campaign)


Employers need skilled workers and place huge importance on work experience

By 2020 technology, health, engineering and the creative industries will need at least 1.5 million new recruits. (Citizens UK Good Jobs Campaign)

When it comes to recruiting young people, most London employers – particularly smaller businesses – value experience above all other criteria.[4]

Despite being more highly qualified than ever before, employers frequently complain that young people do not have the right skills for work such as good communication and teamwork skills, commercial awareness, project planning and analysis skills. [5]

Employers value attitude and enthusiasm very highly – in many cases above skills and qualifications.[6]

Employers who take on young people are often more positive than those who do not, and sometimes the experience of employing young people can change employers’ negative views into more positive ones.[7]

27% of young people with an academic degree reported being unemployed six months after leaving education, compared with only 21% of those with vocational training. (Edge Foundation and City and Guilds, 2014)

Too few young people are gaining adequate experience of work

The number of young people with part time jobs has halved in the last fifteen years.[8]

Careers advice is often non-existent. According to recent research by ComRes, 60% of young people have not spoken to a careers advisor and nine in ten have never spoken to a business professional. Two thirds of young people get their advice and guidance from family members. [9]

Engagement with employers while in education can help young people make more effective transitions from education into work. [10]

The Employers and Education Taskforce (EET) estimates that children who have four or more points of contact with employers while at school are five times less likely to be NEET (not in employment, education or training) than those who had had no contact.

Research suggests information from employers encourages more commitment to school. [11]

There is evidence that work experience recruits are higher quality than other recruits. They perform more effectively and require less training.[12]

More employers are using informal networks for recruitment[13]

The majority of ‘micro businesses’ (fewer than 10 employees) surveyed by the British Chambers of Commerce recruited through recommendations and word of mouth. [14]

Informal recruitment practices have also become commonplace more widely in the labour market – 29 per cent of employers recruited that way in 2012.[15]

Informal recruitment relies on networks. This tends to favour older over younger workers because young people generally have smaller (work) networks having had less chance to develop them. [16]

Access to networks is a particular barrier to young people who have been unemployed for long periods and for those living in workless households. [17]

A third of law firms only offer work experience through informal means (Education and Employers Taskforce, 2012)

Parents are important

“In an increasingly complicated system of post-16 provision young people are all too often left to navigate their own path, relying on personal and social networks: which disadvantages those from less affluent backgrounds, whose ‘social capital’ (personal connections with people in different professions) can mean they are exposed to a narrower range of career choices and sources of information.”

“Young people are greatly influenced by their parents’ career paths when choosing their own direction.”

“It is a myth that parents in a lower socio-economic bracket have low aspirations for their children, but evidence shows that these initially high aspirations diminish over time as parents feel they and their children are increasingly powerless to realise earlier ambitions.”

(The Fair Education Alliance Report Card 2014)

Employer engagement with schools is ad hoc and patchy

The lack of a national system coordinating employer engagement makes engagement more difficult for employers.


Research by the Work Foundation found the key barriers to employers engaging with schools include:

  • Time – visiting schools or other events clearly involve substantial time commitments, and running work experience placements can draw significantly on the time of the staff involved in supporting the young person.
  • Lack of awareness – The absence of a coordinating structure means an employer interested in working with a school either has to contact an individual school, or find and approach the relevant organisations operating in their local area. Some employers we interviewed simply weren’t sure of how to go about engaging with local schools.
  • Reliance on individuals – Many of the employers interviewed who were engaging with a school relied on a particular staff member to facilitate the engagement and continued engagement is therefore vulnerable to the efforts of the individual staff member.



London Ambitions:  Shaping a successful careers offer for all young Londoners

Young people in London must be given the chance to gain experiences of the world of work and be inspired through their schooling to see possibilities and goals that are worthwhile and relevant to them. Too often young people are missing out at present. In some London boroughs “the lives of the children and young people are characterised by high concentrations of deprivation, a high proportion of workless households and a high number of families with English as a second language” (Cllr Peter John). For these young people (and their families), as well as for many other young Londoners the careers and employability landscape is confusing and over-complex.










[1] 59.1% of children in Lambeth live in families on less than 60% of average income (2013) londonspovertyprofile.org.uk

[2] http://www.theguardian.com/uk/datablog/2012/apr/12/london-school-pupils-poverty-race

[3][3] Lambeth Council research for Growth and Opportunity Strategy 2015

[4] UKCES (2012) The Youth Employment Challenge, Wath-upon-Dearne: UK Commission for Employment and Skills

[5] Hasluck, C. (1998) Employers, young people and the unemployed: a review of research. Institute for Employment Research.

REC (2010) Avoiding a lost generation – Preparing young people for work now and in the future: Recommendations of the REC UK Youth Employment Taskforce

[6] The Work Foundation (2013) Missing Million Paper 3: The employer’s role in tackling youth unemployment   http://www.theworkfoundation.com/DownloadPublication/Report/336_Employer%E2%80%99s%20Role%20FINAL%202%20July%202013.pdf

[7] Hasluck, C (2012) Why businesses should recruit young people- Briefing Paper. UKCES; CIPD (2011) The business case for employing young people

[8] UK Commission for Employment and Skills, Death of the Saturday Job: the decline on earning and learning amongst young people in the UK (While 42 per cent took part-time jobs in 1996 – the figure for 2014 was only 18 per cent)

[9] ComRes (2014) Young people’s perceptions about post- 18 education and training options: A report for the University and College Union, London

[10] Employers and Education Taskforce (2012) It’s Who you Know – why employment contacts at school make a difference to the employment prospects of young adults. EET, London.

[11] Nancy Hoffman, Pathways to Prosperity Project (2011) Pathways to Prosperity: Meeting the challenge of preparing young Americans for the 21 st century. Harvard Graduate School of Education, Boston.

[12] Hughes, Bailey, Mechur (2001) School to Work: Making a difference in education: A research report to America. Columbia University, New York. Referenced in Hasluck (2012) Why Businesses Should Recruit Young People. UK Commission for Employment and Skills, London.

[13] The Work Foundation (2013) Beyond the Business Case: the employer’s role in tackling youth unemployment,

[14] 4 BCC (2011) The Workforce Survey: Small businesses

[15] UKCES (2013) Scaling the youth employment challenge. Evidence from the UKCES Employer Perspectives Survey, 2012.

[16] CIPD (2012) Engaging employers in tackling youth unemployment

[17] UKCES (2011) Employers and the recruitment of unemployed people an evidence review