Raising the career aspirations of 16-24-year olds in Swindon

Andrew Wells
Initiative Manager | Business West
28th November 2017

According to the Centre for Cities, Swindon has one of the highest employment rates in the UK, ranking 6th out of 63 towns and cities. This is a great success story, owing to a vibrant and dynamic local economy spearheaded by a number of leading global businesses.

Despite this, however, latest figures show that Swindon’s youth claimant count was solidly in the upper third percentile, meaning that if you are aged between 16-24 and living in Swindon you are much more likely to be unemployed than you are in neighbouring cities.

In Oxford and Reading to the east and Bristol in the West, youth claimant rates are 62, 59 and 54 respectively out of a total of 63. 

By sharp contrast Swindon’s youth claimant rate is 18th. 

Although there are a number of towns and cities considerably worse off than Swindon, and much of the distance that the town has put between itself and other areas is as a result of co-ordinated efforts since the financial crisis, the gap between the employment rate and gulf between local rivals remains stark.

That being so, there are signs that the career aspirations of young people in Swindon are improving.

Apprenticeships starts are looking increasingly healthy, STEM education options are getting better, and thanks to the co-ordinated efforts of business, education providers and the Council, awareness of career pathways for young people in the town are starting to bear fruit.

Greater co-ordination between business, local education providers and the Council is most definitely direction of travel and there’s plenty in the pipeline for 2018, including next year’s Jobfest Swindon, which Business West is co-organising.

Through bringing the town’s employers and young people together to raise aspirations and awareness the event will help ease the burden of youth unemployment on the local economy.

Taking place on Tuesday 6th March 2018 during National Apprenticeship Week at the STEAM Museum in Swindon the event will:

  • promote a range of apprenticeship opportunities at various levels through employers
  • provide an opportunity for employers, who employ young people ages 16–24 years, to promote themselves and the types of work available for young people once they have left learning
  • enable young people who are currently unemployed or leaving learning to look for work and to gain a better understanding of the range of employment opportunities in Swindon

It has been shown by a recent CIPD report, that business engagement is one of the most effective ways of reducing youth unemployment. Yet for business engagement to be meaningful, not only does it need to start early, it needs to help inspire young people get into work. 

Getting businesses out there networking with young people is a great way of doing this and capturing their attention. Youth unemployment causes exclusion and disadvantage, and has a cost to the economy and society, so it is imperative that businesses and young people make the most of the opportunity.

I’ve been involved in the event for the past two years in my previous role at the Borough Council and it really does help deliver in terms of reducing unemployment through raising the aspiration and awareness of young people. Funded largely by the Council, at £175 for a table it’s also a snip compared to comparable, large-scale business events in Swindon.

Here’s a video from last year’s event, check it out and see you there!

Do you want to join the conversation?

Sign up here