Preparing young people for the world of work is key to long-term productivity and competitiveness. As well as being critical for the UK’s economic future, recruiting and developing young people benefits organisations now, through improving workforce diversity, bringing in new ideas and skills, and helping to build talent pipelines.

Supporting young people to find jobs and fulfilling careers is a collective responsibility, requiring action from a range of organisations, from policy-makers and educators to businesses themselves.

This report, based on a survey of over 2,000 people aged 18–30:

  • provides an insight into the needs of young people, both in education and as they start out in their careers
  • shows employers how to help young people understand their employment options, how to obtain the skills they need to enter the workplace and how to provide advice to ensure career aspirations are met.

Download the report below

Youth employment in the UK 2021

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PDF document 696.4 KB

For analysis of the experiences and expectations of young Scots (based on the Scottish sub-sample of the same data), download the supplement below.

Youth employment in the UK – Scotland supplement

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PDF document 460.6 KB

Key findings of the UK report

  • The qualifications young people held are seen as more necessary to get jobs, than do jobs.
  • Over half of those who attended university would have considered an apprenticeship as an alternative route, but only 1% said they received help at school to apply for one.
  • Only a fifth of young people rated the careers guidance given at school or college as high quality and said that not enough time was spent helping them understand career pathways or options.
  • Only half of young people surveyed received a face-to-face careers guidance interview at school.
  • Whilst most young people took part in work experience at school or college, over a quarter rated it as low quality.
  • Paid work during education is seen as beneficial for developing employability skills.
  • Only just over half of people surveyed are satisfied with their main job, with the lowest rates of satisfaction being in wholesale and retail and the highest being in education and healthcare.
  • Those that said their career progression had failed to meet their expectations reported poor quality line management and lack of effective training programmes as the main factors holding them back.
  • Over two-fifths of young people believe the pandemic has harmed their long-term career prospects.

Key recommendations

Through its One Million Chances campaign, the CIPD is calling for:

  • The Government to increase funding for careers advice, so that every young person is guaranteed at least one face-to-face interview with a qualified career guidance professional by the age of 16.
  • Careers advice in schools and colleges to give equal focus to vocational and academic routes into employment.
  • Employers to collaborate with local schools and colleges to ensure young people understand and are equipped with the skills that businesses need, so they are ready to join the workforce when they leave education.
  • More senior professionals from all sectors to volunteer for the Enterprise Advisers programme in England, run by The Careers & Enterprise Company. It matches individuals with a school to help them develop a careers advice strategy and connect them with local employers.

More reports

CIPD Good Work Index: Northern Ireland

A Northern Ireland summary of the CIPD Good Work Index 2024 survey report

CIPD Good Work Index: Wales

A Wales summary of the CIPD Good Work Index 2024 survey report

Working Lives Scotland

Dedicated analysis of job quality and its impact on working lives in Scotland

CIPD Good Work Index: North of England

A North of England summary of the CIPD Good Work Index 2024 survey report

All Reports