The UK is fast recovering from the chaos of the lockdown, which impacted the economy to a large extent. Youths and their aspiration hopes look to be bouncing back from the initially perceived shambles forced by lockdown restrictions and the new normal—social distancing.
Virtual work experience is one such innovation helping young people to recover from the significant impact of COVID. However, it feels the government and employers are not well-versed about the hopes, needs and aspirations of young people in the UK as much as they think they do.
In the light of this disconnect, Speakers for Schools commissioned 3 YouGov surveys to discover what young people are thinking about their future and show how many young people think employers and politicians really understand their needs, hopes and aspirations well. You can click here for the full research.
Young People Think Work Experience Can Improve Their Confidence
Respondents from the research featured 2,000 young people, 100 employers, and 100 politicians. The survey explains that although youths may not fully understand the exact impact of the lockdown situation on their professional growth, it has disrupted the learning channels that could otherwise train their skills and prepare them for the labour market.
Between 53 and 63% of young people think getting work experience can boost their confidence with regards to their aspirations. 47-55% even believe that the most significant barrier to the success of their aspirations is not having access to work experience.
This priority further explains the need for virtual WEX and how young people can revitalise their lost time in learning through online placement opportunities recognised in the UK labour market.
Do Those in Government and Employers Really Understand Young People?
There is a disparity between what young people think of employers and politicians and what these parties think of them. Employers (91%) and politicians (95%), however, recognise that youths have been greatly impacted by COVID and think they understand young people enough.
- 67% of surveyed employers believe they know the needs, hopes, and aspirations of young people below the age of 18. However, when young people are asked about how much they think employers understand them, only 23% think employers know their hopes, aspirations and needs well.
The survey explains that the disconnect could be linked with the fact that 66% of employers obtain insights into youths through channels like family and friends. These channels do not entirely tell the experiences of young people in society, creating an understanding gap between youths and employers.
- 87% of politicians think they understand what young people hope for, need, and aspire to become. However, just 11% of surveyed youths agree that politicians understand what they hope for, need and aspire to become well.
The survey explains that this disconnect could be linked with the fact that between 84% and 86% of politicians obtain insights into young people through channels like their constituents, families, schools, and friends. These networks do not entirely explain what young people need, creating an understanding gap between politicians and young people.
What employers and politicians can do:
Employers and politicians can understand young people better by relying on a more reliable platform to gather data and obtain insights into what young people think. They can extend outside the traditional preference channels to more personalised mediums to fully understand what young people are thinking, and how their aspirations can be assisted even better.
How VWEX Influence Post-Pandemic Thinking
Even though employers and politicians do not understand the hopes, needs, and aspirations of young people well, they admit that work experience is important for their professional growth and recovery from lockdown restrictions.
For employers, work experience is the most vital activity to catch them young while politicians think WEX can speed up youths’ recovery from the bonds of COVID.
Unfortunately, traditional work experience is not the right response to boosting young people’s confidence because of post-COVID changes, including more businesses operating from home, social distancing, and more. This development means that physical placements are either being cancelled or shifted to an unknown time, and it triggers a delay in learning. Moreover, some youths may have to self-isolate and the cost of accessing in-person placements discourages the participation of youths. Employers have reduced the number of intakes to ensure social distancing, which further shows the weakness of traditional work experience.
The experience is not so with virtual work experience, which eliminates the problems of geography. It reduces cost and gives remote access to young people and employers online from anywhere.
Since VWEX is virtual, it is more convenient and flexible, allowing employers to increase their outreach for additional placements to increase the catchment area for more UK young people.
What Exactly Can the UK Government Do to Assist Aspiring Young People?
90% of employees recognise the importance of government support to assist young people to speed up their recovery from the stresses and uncertainties of UK lockdowns. The government is listening to what young people need, their hopes, and aspirations. In London, for example, 1 in 10 Londoners is digitally excluded, which means more young people may not be having access to internet connectivity to experience virtual work experience.
Nevertheless, the UK government is investing £5 billion to make sure that every UK resident has the same access to gigabit-capable broadband for speedier connectivity.
A non-profit organisation such as Speakers for Schools is helping to make WEX more accessible to young people, especially for youth people that need it the most. They have networked more than 700 employers and are working with about 4,000 colleges and state secondary schools in the past few months. So far, they have offered about 56,000 online placements through their Virtual Work Experience programme with hopes to do even more in subsequent academic sessions.
Virtual work experience is the new come-to and the most likely new normal with digital operations becoming the norm across the UK. More businesses are preferring it online and working remotely as a response to COVID.