Breaking down barriers: working towards Birmingham’s future supporting younger people into employment
‘Breaking Down Barriers: Working Towards Birmingham’s Future’ is a Cabinet Office produced report, examining the impact of Covid-19 on young people in Birmingham.
It specifically focuses on the effects of the pandemic on youth employment in the city, and the challenges faced by young people seeking employment and work experience.
The report sets out a range of practical recommendations for improving and simplifying the employment, education and training landscape in Birmingham. These recommendations will feed into the delivery of Birmingham City Council’s Economic Recovery Strategy, including the work of the new Birmingham Employment Taskforce. Working together with stakeholders from across the city, the Taskforce will oversee the policy response to youth unemployment and the development of a new Employment Strategy, informed by the findings of this report and an extensive ongoing programme of engagement with young people themselves.
In February 2020, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, 6.3% of young people aged 18 to 24 in Birmingham and 6.1% in the West Midlands were unemployed.
By March 2021, this had risen to 11.6% in Birmingham and 11.5% in the West Midlands, an increase of over 5%. When we remove economically inactive young people who are not currently seeking employment, such as students, youth unemployment in the city rose to approximately 20% as of April 2021.
As of July 2021, almost one in five young people in Birmingham are now out of work, substantially greater than the current UK average of 13.5% for 18 to 24 youth unemployment. As the youngest city in Europe, with almost 40% of our population aged under 25, an urgent policy response from partners across Birmingham is required.
Over the course of our research, we spoke to almost 2000 young people, 300 local businesses, 24 education providers and a range of stakeholders from across education and front-line services to understand the challenges faced by young people on the ground seeking employment or work experience.