Youth solutions: Improving education, training and employment in Northern Ireland

Youth solutions: Improving education, training and employment in Northern Ireland

This report details how young people from communities impacted by issues relating to division and deprivation have experienced school, further and higher education, vocational training, and entering the workforce. It details findings from 12 focus groups with 92 young people, which were held during April – June 2023.

A significant finding from this report is widespread discontent at how young people feel they are prepared for the world of work. Concern at the amount and quality of careers advice on offer, and frustration at the lack of guidance and pathways into good apprenticeships and jobs raises serious questions for policymakers. The report also highlights widespread dissatisfaction about the school curriculum, and the subjects on offer. Some taking part saw a large gap between school and “the real world” of jobs, necessary life skills, and the opportunities they will face after school.

A common frustration for many taking part was the struggle to gain work experience, and a lack of belief that good job opportunities will be available for them near to home. In terms of experiences of school, many young people related stories of exam pressure and stress and argued that the number of exams should be reduced, with better use made of coursework and other assessment. Some participants also spoke of their perceptions of negative school environments.

This is the second Pivotal report produced from these focus groups. The first report examined the young participants’ perspectives on the theme of Community. The focus groups mark the final piece of research in Pivotal’s Youth Solutions project.  

The full report can be downloaded here. This is the second of two reports taken from the focus groups. The first is Youth solutions for building better communities in Northern Ireland. These reports are part of Pivotal’s broader Youth Solutions project, which has also produced a policy and literature review, and the results of a youth survey.

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