Tackling Youth Unemployment

The Skills Service, part of Opportunity Peterborough, is working with Youth Employment UK to make Peterborough the country’s first youth friendly employer city.

Sarah Anstiss, Skills Lead, The Skills Service

The UK has a serious future workforce challenge on its hands. Recent surveys have shown that the career aspirations of young people in the UK are at odds with the jobs market, and that career ambitions can be limited by the age of just seven through stereotyping about social background and race.

The Skills Service has been working for a number of years to break down these stereotypes and to bridge industry skills gaps by bringing employers into schools to talk about real career opportunities. In the last 10 months alone, the team has worked across Peterborough, Fenland, East Cambridgeshire, South Holland and Huntingdonshire to deliver 165 events in over 30 schools, in partnership with 860 businesses and reaching a total of 26,545 students.

We’re big advocates of early intervention – as few as four interactions with employers in school can reduce a young person’s chances of becoming NEET (not in education, employment or training) by 25%.

With the new university coming to Peterborough and a very young demography, retaining young talent is more important than ever for Peterborough and The Skills Service is keen to emulate any successful strategies across our operational area.

Peterborough itself faces a challenge of higher than average NEET levels, currently at 8.3% for those aged 16-17. When coupled with unemployment at 5.9% for 16-24 year olds, it’s clear that we need a co-ordinated approach.

At the recent Youth Friendly workshop we had the opportunity to discuss the different aspects of local youth employment pathways and shared some of the great employer practices. Some of the key concerns being addressed by employers related to building resilience in the workplace, bite sized training opportunities, and start up loans for aspiring young entrepreneurs. A number of key themes were identified as areas for further discussion and action.  These included identifying practices to ensure inclusivity and to support young people with special needs, enabling employers and students to meet and identify expectations through focus group discussion.  CPD links for teachers was another area it was agreed would be developed.

The aim of the group is to break down barriers and enable more local young people to have the confidence and understanding to benefit from the local jobs market.

One of the biggest challenges we can easily make a dent in is centralising knowledge across sectors, especially between teachers and employers. We can help employers create optimal environments for young employees whilst helping students get an even better understanding of the jobs market and the world of work before they leave education.

We’ll also be talking directly to young people to discuss their ambitions, understand what types of support and delivery models would work best, and come up with new ways to get young people excited about local career opportunities.

Keep an eye out on our social media and website for more information about our progress: and @UK_Skills on Twitter.

If you’d like to get involved, email or call 01733 317441.


Laura Gibbon, Partnerships Director at Youth Employment UK

“We’re very excited to have Peterborough signed up to become the first Youth Employer Friendly city.

“We’re very excited to have Peterborough signed up to become the first Youth Employer Friendly city. Our annual Youth Voice census has over 3,000 responses from across the UK and in 2019 found that some of the biggest barriers to employment were mental health, location and travel, experience and skills.

“Working across different stakeholder groups is definitely putting Peterborough on the right footing and we’re really proud to be working with The Skills Service. There’s been some really lively discussion at the workshops so far with everyone clearly demonstrating a big passion for helping local young people not just find work, but embark on a career they find rewarding.”