The evolving youth labour market : a study of continuity and change
The focus of this thesis is the level of demand for youth labour. By re-applying the aims and methodology of a study carried out in the late 1970s and early 1980s and comparing the findings, changes to the structure and functioning of the youth labour market can be identified. These changes are then assessed in the context of evolving education and training policies and, in particular, against the background of significant increases which have occurred in young people's rates of participation in post-compulsory education. The findings are based on a survey of sixty companies from a range of industrial sectors and size bands in two contrasting local labour markets: Leicester and Sunderland. The overwhelming majority of interviews were conducted face-to-face, using a structured interviewing approach. In addition, representatives of local TECs, Careers Services and Training Providers were interviewed. The findings point to the fact that, although there has been a reduction in the number of job opportunities, there still exists a demand for youth labour which may, in some areas, exceed the supply of young people choosing to enter the labour market at the age of sixteen. Importantly, many employers in the sample had little understanding of new vocational qualifications, namely GNVQs, and tended to rely on Year 11 attainment levels and non-academic criteria in the selection process. Finally, the thesis explores the dissonance which, it is argued, has been created by education and training policies which have generated competition for young people from employers and education and training providers, and suggests that such policies may be failing to achieve the twin aims of enhancing the qualification attainments of young people and addressing the future skill needs of the country. It also highlights the need for further research to determine employers' requirements for youth labour.