Education and employers working together for young people

Employer contact at school reduces likelihood of young people becoming NEET: young adults who recalled ‘four or more employer contacts’ are five times less likely to be NEET than those who had no involvement.

Groundbreaking new research shows a significant link between young people’s experience of the world of work whilst at school and the chances of them becoming NEET (not in education, employment or training) as young adults. 


The research ‘It’s who you meet: why employer contacts at school make a difference to the employment prospects of young adults’ by the charity the Education and Employers Taskforce is based on a survey undertaken pro-bono by YouGov which asked young adults aged 19-24 about their current employment status and to reflect on their experiences of the world of work whist they were at school. The findings were striking: 

26.1% of young people who could recall no contact with employers whilst at school went on to become NEET. This reduced significantly to 4.3% for those who had taken part in four or more activities involving employers (career insights, mentoring, work tasters, work experience etc). Importantly, robust statistical analysis demonstrates that these outcomes are not linked to academic achievement (see table in Notes to editors). 

The survey is being published to coincide with the launch on Monday 6 February of a report by David Miliband MP, Chair of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations’ (ACEVO) Commission on Youth Unemployment. 

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) says: “It’s really important for young people to get a chance to meet a range of people, doing a range of jobs. We need to do everything we can to tackle the crisis of youth unemployment.” 

David Cruickshank, Chairman of Deloitte says: “We all know that we need to do something to address the high levels of youth unemployment. That is why we have been pleased to support the development of Inspiring the Future (, a free service which will see tens of thousands of people from all sectors and professions going into schools and colleges to talk about their jobs, careers and the education route they took. The aim is to give young people a practical insight into jobs, higher education and training including apprenticeships.” 

Hugh Lauder, Professor of Political Economy at the University of Bath says: “This hugely interesting analysis sheds new light on school-to-work transitions and the character of youth unemployment. The findings set out in the report demand closer attention.” 

In explaining the findings, the report draws on extensive UK and international research, including recent publications from the OECD, the International Labour Organisation and Harvard University. The report includes:

  1. Strong evidence that there is a misalignment between the career aspirations of many young people and real job prospects 
  2. Compelling evidence that young people are especially attentive and trusting of first-hand information about jobs and career pathways received from employers 
  3. The high adult labour market penalties demonstrated by longitudinal studies associated with teenage indecision or unrealism about career choices – regardless of qualifications achieved 
  4. The fact that countries with greatest success in dealing with youth unemployment typically include extensive workplace exposure within educational programmes 

The report argues that through employer engagement young people often gain access to new and trustworthy information and also useful contacts. In this way, a high number of relatively brief employer engagements play a significant role in helping young people to explore, clarify and confirm career choices. The result is to make it easier for them to navigate the increasingly difficult move from school or university to sustained, successful employment, and so compete more effectively for vacancies which are available. 

The report is careful not to see school-mediated employer engagement as the solution to youth unemployment. It argues that the impacts of young people meeting adults from the world of work and getting insights into careers will be only be optimised within an professional careers advice framework. 


The need for action 

The survey showed that unfortunately, only 7% of young adults surveyed recalled four or more activities having taken place. While 98% of 333 teenage pupils surveyed by Deloitte in 2010* wanted to have more involvement with employers, only 42% had spoken to someone from the workplace about jobs and careers. 

The greatest impacts can be expected on those young people whose families have weakest access to relevant sources of career insights (such as the two million children who live in workless households).


Media contact 

Please contact Carol Glover, Communications Manager, Education and Employers Taskforce 

Mobile: 07939 061 850 or 

We can put you in touch with a variety of people who have visited state schools to talk to young people, including some Speakers for Schools. There are also opportunities to visit and write case studies about innovative schools. 


Read more:

- Download the article on the education and employers website
- More articles and research paper on the subject of employer engagement in education

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