For all of us highly committed to helping young people develop their careers, the latest figures on unemployment levels in the UK made depressing reading.

Yet, while the economy may still be in bad shape, this is the time when we have to look at new, innovative and far-reaching solutions to one of the key issues of the day – getting our young people into work.

To set this all in context and so we fully appreciate the challenge we face, between June and August unemployment rose by 114,000 to 2.57 million, a 17 year high.

If we drill into those figures a little further we see that youth unemployment edged ever closer to the one million mark. Indeed, the number of unemployed 16 to 24-year-olds stood at 991,000 an increase of 71,000 on the previous month.

The figures have been swollen by the number of graduates and school leavers that have failed to find work after joining the jobs market in the summer. Interestingly, the figures also measured the youth unemployment rate excluding people in full-time education, of which there were 721,000 unemployed 16 to 24-year-olds.

In collaboration with Reed in Partnership one of the UK’s leading and most respected skills providers, we have developed a unique solution to this problem.

We are aware of the fantastic work that colleges throughout the UK do to ensure that students are skilled and trained. Our solution will maximise the return on investment on costs incurred by colleges in preparing learners for the workplace. It is designed to identify job vacancies from the hidden labour market and make them available exclusively to a college’s learners.

At the Association of Colleges (AoC) Annual Conference and Exhibition in November, James Reed and myself will officially announce the REED NCFE Partnership at a dedicated seminar. We’ll also be joined by Lawrence Vincent Principal and Chief Executive of Bournemouth and Poole College who will explain why Bournemouth and Poole is the first college to officially come on board.

We’re really looking forward to the session and early indications suggest that many colleges attending the conference are very keen to hear what we have to say.

We’ve been greatly encouraged by feedback from discussions with a number of leading colleges across the UK who confirmed the aims and objectives of the partnership meet their own.

Crucially, our approach is also very much in line with the Government’s strong focus on evidencing positive employment outcomes for students, which will affect funding for education institutions in the near future. The REED NCFE Partnership offers colleges an efficient destination tracking service delivering valuable careers information about students.

This is a package tailored to the needs of learners and employers in a local area. It will positively enhance employment outcomes by brokering, managing and offering learners a wide variety of suitable job opportunities, which will include apprenticeships in the hidden labour market, enabling colleges to draw down significant additional funding.

The REED NCFE Partnership will equip students to succeed when taking the step from learning into work. It is essential learners have the right skills and mindset to appeal to potential employers as well as realistic expectations for their first job.

The key to our success is unlocking the mindset of the young person and that is exactly what we will do.

Given the choice between someone with the desired mindset who lacks the complete skill set for the job and someone with the complete skill set who lacks the desired mindset, a total of 96% of thousands of employers surveyed, picked mindset over skill set as the key element in those they seek to retain. (Source: Put Your Mindset To Work by James Reed and Paul Stoltz PhD, 2011).

We look forward to the AoC Conference, to putting forward our thoughts and to playing a very important role in helping colleges to make learners not just skilled for work but actually getting them into employment.

David Grailey is the chief executive of NCFE, the qualification awarding body


Read other FE News articles by David Grailey here.

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