Stephen Evans, Chief Executive of Learning and Work Institute

Employers and public services must adapt to support young people to adapt to a rapidly changing labour market 

Learning and Work Institute research shows young people are increasingly likely to be self-employed, in busier jobs, and need to update their skills, as a result of longer working lives and technological change.

Young people are likely to have 50 year careers and face big changes in the world of work, a new report from Learning and Work Institute shows. It finds that the UK’s 2030 workforce is likely to be more diverse, with more women and disabled people in work, and a growth in the number of people with caring responsibilities.

Self-employment in areas such as the gig economy is likely to grow too, and rising demand for skills means young people without good qualifications could struggle to find work or build a career.

The report is the latest from Learning and Work Institute’s Youth Commission, which is looking at how to improve education and employment outcomes for 16-24 year olds in England.

It suggests that, if recent trends continue, then by 2030 750,000 young people could be self-employed and 500,000 could be in insecure work, worried that their hours could change unexpectedly.

While employment is at a record high overall, there are also concerns about the quality of work and whether young people get the chance to move up the career ladder, or represent a dead end leaving them trapped in low paid work.

The report highlights that 31% of people say their jobs require them to work at high speed most or all the time, up from 27% in 2011.

Stephen Evans, Chief Executive of Learning and Work Institute, said:

“Young people are going to face huge changes during 50 year careers. Attention often focuses on the risk of robots replacing jobs, but further growth in self-employment and changing skills requirements in most jobs could perhaps have bigger impacts. Young people must get the support they need to prepare for this future. It is no good just focusing on the skills needed for jobs today, we also need to give young people the skills they need to adapt to future changes, many of which cannot be predicted accurately.”

The report concludes that we need to better help young people to prepare for and adapt to these changes. This includes ensuring young people have good literacy, numeracy and digital skills, which are increasingly central to many jobs.

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Employers too will need to adapt to a future workforce which is more diverse and where more people will have multiple caring responsibilities, which could include children, relatives and parents.

Learning and Work Institute’s Youth Commission will be developing recommendations during 2019 aimed at ensuring all young people get the education and employment support they need.

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