Statement in response to House of Lords Youth Unemployment Committee Report

Voice 21 welcomes the 'Skills for every young person’ report of the House of Lords Youth Unemployment Committee released today (Friday 26th November) that calls for urgent action to address ‘essential skills gaps’. 

The report highlights the “compelling evidence on the value of oracy, the skill of oral communication” and identifies the detrimental impacts of the current lack of oracy provision in education on young people’s opportunity to progress into employment. 

Young people (aged 16 to 25) in full or part-time employment are more than 50% more likely to ‘strongly agree’ (35%) than young people who are unemployed or not working (23%) that their schooling/education helped them develop sufficient oracy skills for success in later life.*

The findings reinforce the conclusions of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Oracy’s Speak for Change Inquiry {April 21}, showing strong demand from young people for more emphasis on spoken communication in schools and raising particular concerns about oracy skills in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Beccy Earnshaw, CEO of Voice 21, said: “Spoken language skills are one of the strongest predictors of a child’s future life chances yet too many young people are still not being given the opportunities to explicitly and purposefully develop these crucial skills. 

Early this year, the Oracy All-Party Parliamentary Group’s report shone a light on the link between poor oracy and unemployment, and showed young people wish oracy was a higher priority in education, today’s report from the House of Lords Committee on Youth Unemployment strengthens the case for change. Despite the body of evidence which shows that a lack of effective oral communication skills hampers social mobility and young people’s job prospects and that teaching of oracy can help to close the disadvantage gap and to encourage young people to become active citizens, oracy remains overlooked and undervalued within education.

At Voice 21 we work with schools across the country to transform the learning and life chances of young people through talk. As this report confirms, it is time to increase the focus on oracy in our education system to empower all students, not just some, to find their voice to succeed in school and beyond.”

*The Centre for Education and Youth, Oracy after the pandemic report:https://cfey.org/reports/2021/04/oracy-after-the-pandemic/

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