Young people call on businesses and government to help them get a better start to working life

“We’re optimistic, skilled and ready to work but we need your help to get on.”  That was the message from young people to policy makers, employers, educators and charities on Monday (24th Feb) as they met to discuss their career hopes and aspirations. 

Young people told the group, including Employment Minister Esther McVey and Tesco UK Personnel Director Judith Nelson, that they do feel optimistic and excited about their futures, but there are challenges that could stand in their way.  Some feel the careers advice they’re offered is out of date, and that they’d benefit from more training in employability skills.  Many also believe they lack the experience and contacts needed to secure a good job, even if they’ve got good qualifications.


The event also saw the launch of new research conducted by Tesco and youth engagement agency Livity which found:

  • 65% feel optimistic about their futures, despite current levels of youth unemployment
  • Most know what they want to do, and think they have the skills to do it
  • But young people lack career role models - 1 in 3 said they don’t know anyone whose job they’d want to do
  • Most turn to parents or careers advisors for help, but  feel the jobs market has changed so much their advice is no longer relevant
  • 50% are worried about the lack of opportunities for young people, and 64% say that businesses don’t do enough to help young people get the best start to their careers

Employment Minister Esther McVey MP said:  “The number of young people in work is on the rise and youth unemployment is falling, but there is more we want to do as part of the Government’s long-term economic plan to ensure young people have the skills they need.

“We want to help young people get the right support and have positive role models. It’s also vital they are able to get their foot in the door to the job they want so they can begin their career journey, which is why we are working together with employers and the third sector to make sure there are opportunities out there. It was great to hear the young people’s views today about how we help more of them into work.”

Esther McVey MP

In small working groups, the young people had a chance to discuss with the employers, educators and policy makers present some practical steps they felt could improve their experience of finding work.  Among the recommendations they suggested were:

  • Access to careers advice from a much earlier age, so that students can make informed decisions about their futures (for example, when deciding which GCSEs to take)
  • Schools having closer links with employers to help students understand what jobs are out there and provide mentoring from potential employers
  • Employers to review their application processes so they’re more relevant and accessible for young people, for example using video applications and face-to-face job fairs
  • Businesses to offer more schemes which promote employability skills, CV writing and build confidence in the workplace
  • More targeted communication with young people about opportunities and support available  - using social media to reach young people themselves and the third sector to reach disadvantaged groups

Speaking after the event Judith Nelson, UK Personnel Director at Tesco said “This event was about learning from young people what business and others can do to help them get on in life.  At Tesco, we’re committed to creating opportunities for young people in the communities we serve, not just those who work for us.  And by working together with other employers, government and the third sector I believe we can make a real difference.”

Judith Nelson

Yara Shaikh, aged 19, who took part in the research and attended the event, said “As young people, we have a lot to say but we’re not often heard.  Here  we’ve had the opportunity to talk directly to people who can really make a difference.  It was also good to hear their point of view, and to see that they are willing to help us.”



  • The roundtable event took place on Monday, 24th February 2014 entitled “How can businesses, educators and policy makers work together to equip young people with the skills they need to start successful careers?”
  • The event was facilitated by youth engagement agency Livity, who also conducted the research with young people.  A full copy of the research can be found here
  • Livity also produced a video which was shown at the event and can be seen here
  • Those present included:
    • Policy makers – Esther McVey MP, Ray Lewis – advisor to the Mayor of London on Youth Mentoring, representatives from  Policy Exchange and Job Centre Plus
    • Employers – representatives from Tesco, Barclays, Ernst & Young, Marks &Spencer and Coca-Cola Enterprises
    • Educators –Teach First
    • Other experts – The Prince’s Trust, The Work Foundation, National Youth Agency and Apps for Good
    • Livity is a youth engagement agency.  They work with young people every day to co-create campaigns, content and communities. Clients – including Google, Public Health England, Channel 4, NSPCC, Big Lottery Fund and Barclays - get uniquely deep youth insights and a precious pool of young talent, energy and ideas.  The young people they work with get training, equipment, support and opportunities to build brighter futures.

Tesco is one of fifteen businesses to have signed up to ‘Movement to Work’ to offer vocational training to help young people into work.  For more information on all the opportunities open to young people at Tesco visit

Additional quotes from the event:

Sam Conniff, Chairman of Livity said:

“A big part of the answer is simpler than we think. We need to get much better at opening doors to young people; opening doors to learning skills; opening doors to developing simple networks and contacts, opening doors to gaining entry level experience.”

Ray Lewis, Advisor to the Mayor of London on Youth Mentoring said:

“Creating opportunities for young people is really important as we face high levels of youth unemployment and the world is changing so fast that we all need to evolve.  Employers need to adapt to speak the language of young people whilst also meeting their own needs.  Here I saw an opportunity for young people to play a role in shaping businesses in future, not just being employees.”

Maryanne Matthews, Head of CSR at Ernst and Young said:

“As employers we talk a lot about the need to support young people, but actually having them in the room and hearing what it’s really like for them was very powerful.”

Mike Thompson, Head of Employability for Barclays said:

“What was clear is that we need to work harder to tell young people about the support that’s out there.  There are lots of employers with great programmes to offer, and support for young people who want to set up their own businesses, but they just don’t know they exist let alone how to access that help.”

Jay Howlett, aged 20, who took part in the research said:

“My experience is that just the process of applying is too complicated and doesn’t really give us the opportunity to showcase what we have to offer.  If employers are willing to meet us face to face, rather than asking us to tick boxes online, I believe they’d have a better idea of what we have to offer.”

For more information please contact the Tesco Press Office on
01992 644645

We are a team of over 530,000 people in 12 markets dedicated to bringing the best value, choice and service to our millions of customers each week. Our core purpose is 'we make what matters better, together'.


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