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Young People, Skills and Prospects in Employment

Supporting Impact

Policy, practice and inclusiveness. Developing understanding of what works and why.

A conference co-hosted by the University of Leeds & Leeds City Council. This event is supported through the ESRC IAA DTP Business Boost fund.
  • Friday 29 March, 09.30am - 4.15pm
  • Leeds Civic Hall, Calverley Street, LS1 1UR 



In a context of increasing concerns about skills shortages and worsening job prospects for many young people, multiple interventions seek to improve young people’s pathways from school and college into employment, raise skill levels and promote inclusive growth. Whilst such ambitions are at the heart of national and local agendas they are situated within contexts of enormous complexity and challenge. These include difficulties of coordination across key stakeholders, linked capacity issues, entrenched social inequalities and barriers to inclusion, and limits to supply side policy solutions. Furthermore there are important gaps in evidence about what works and why, and what facilitates and what obstructs effective policy and practice in local contexts.

This one day conference will focus on these questions in the Leeds City context. It will bring to bear national as well as city expertise and evidence, and explore a range of approaches which seek to enhance young people's pathways, skills and prospects. We will document the kind of research evidence and strategies which could further support policy and practice, and aim to facilitate a new network and ongoing collaborations.

Conference Programme

9.30 Introduction Cllr Jonathan Pryor

9.40 Prof. Ewart Keep (University of Oxford): On complexity and young people’s prospects: policy, evidence and possibilities for meaningful interventions

Session 1: strengthening connection between education and employment

10.15 Panel:  (How) can enhanced connections between schools and employers support young people into quality employment? Each speaker will describe examples of their organisation’s work, reflect on efficacy in enhancing young people’s pathways and prospects, and linked challenges. Followed by Q and A / discussion with floor. Olly Newton (Director of Research and Policy, The Edge Foundation); Andrea Cowans (Leeds City College); Sonya Midgley (Enterprise and Education Lead, Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership); Stephanie Burras (CEO Ahead Partnership).

11.20 Coffee

Session 2: Local labour market contexts and labour demand

11.45 Peter Glover (Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership) Leeds labour market, skills in context and young people’s prospects

12.00 Mark Goldstone (Head of Policy, West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce) Employer perspectives on training, education and youth skills: can policy and practice be more joined up?

12.15 Workshop: facilitated small group discussions (see further details below)  

1.00 Summary feedback session (1-2 key points from tables; but discussions will be recorded, in writing, by notetakers and fed back to organisers for summarising)

 1.10 Lunch

Session 3: Employers, young people and skills in context

1.50. Prof. Irena Grugulis (University of Leeds) Soft skills: how much are they a product of employment contexts?

2.05 Dr. Jo Ingold (University of Leeds) Apprenticeships and the levy: institutional constraints on take up

2.20 Q and A

Session 4: Diversity and Inclusion

2.30. Prof. Sue Maguire (University of Bath) Young people at the margins: social inclusion and skills policies in UK comparative perspective

3.00. Sue Wynne (Head Employment and Skills Leeds City Council) Young people at the margins in Leeds city context: inclusive growth, employment and skills strategies in practice

 3.20. Prof. Sarah Irwin (University of Leeds) Summary of day, prompts for plenary   

 3.30. Plenary: All speakers and Q and A / discussion from floor

4.00. Next steps

4.15. Close

Further Details

Workshop (12.15 – 1.00) 'Education to employment: what works in enhancing young people’s access to employment?'

The facilitated workshop session will ask participants to explore the following questions from different perspectives (e.g across school, college, employers, third sector organisations, city policy makers, young people and their families). What is the evidence that interventions make a difference?  What are the barriers to effective interventions? What works, for who, and why (and in what contexts)? Where would more research, evidence and analysis be most valuable? What scope is there for collaboration across partners?

Plenary (3.30 – 4.00)

This will build on discussion and interests arising through the day; some example questions are as follows:

  1. What are the main challenges to effective interventions in enhancing young peoples’ access to work and progression within work, and in supporting employers to invest in skills and quality jobs?
  2. Does ‘business as normal’ reproduce inequalities?
  3. On gaps, shortfalls or misconstructions – what evidence, research and analysis would be of value?
  4. Are there collaborations and/or ways of better aligning work underway in order to enhance practice, support bids for research funding or other activities, better support skills and employment agendas?

Register for your ticket here