Cost-of-living crisis has increased barriers to work for young Londoners


KFC and UK Youth launch new youth employability programme across the UK to help 16-24 year olds, who have faced barriers to employment, to build their work skills, confidence and land their first job, as new research reveals the cost of living has significantly worsened work and training opportunities for young people in London.

The Hatch programme, which was piloted in Manchester last year, is currently being rolled out across the UK. Working with UK Youth to identify young people most in need, the programme will offer participants 1-2-1 training, support, and practical work experience, with an interview at KFC on graduation.

The launch of the programme comes as new research from KFC and UK Youth reveals the stark impact the cost-of-living crisis has had on young people’s employment outlook in London. This follows the recent release of Office for National Statistics NEET figures which show that 770,000 young people are currently not in education, employment or training (NEET) across the UK – higher than pre-pandemic levels.

Two thirds (68%) of young people in London say the cost-of-living crisis has increased barriers to finding employment, as a third (32%) employers in London say they are more likely to hire people with more experience over younger candidates, due to the current economic climate.
The research lays bare the impact the cost-of-living crisis is having, not just on young people’s immediate job and training opportunities, but also on their confidence and longer-term employment outlook.

Over a third (37%) of young people in London feel anxious about their employment, training and education prospects, a rise compared with last year. One in four (24%) of London’s young people say they do not feel confident about the future, with this figure consistent with how young people feel about finding a job in the next 5 years (24%).

For employers in London the difficult economic climate means hiring young people has taken a backseat to other priorities. Increasingly, employers in London were found to be reducing training and development opportunities available for young people in a bid to reduce costs: half (52%) of employers in London say they are less able to invest in upskilling young people now, while fewer than two-fifths (38%) of employers in London now offer mentoring for young people.

Nonetheless, employers in London recognise the important role they can play in supporting young people into employment, as 86% believe that employers have a responsibility to help young people into the workforce and 88% say they want to do more to help them develop their skills.

Both employers (88%) and young people (71%) in London agree that the Government needs to do more to help young people into employment and support businesses to hire and train the next generation of talent. With the cost-of-living crisis affecting London so dramatically, it is imperative young people feel supported in their quest for employment.

To help reduce the barriers young people face across the UK, KFC and UK Youth are calling on government to work more closely with businesses to ensure young people are being equipped with the skills that will help them thrive in the workplace. They are also calling for a joined-up strategy that brings together businesses with local authorities, job centres and youth work organisations to better connect young people with job and training opportunities in their local area.

By 2030, KFC aims for a third of all new hires into KFC to be young people, aged between 16 and 24, who have faced barriers to employment – whether that’s because of social, economic, domestic or mental health challenges, coming through the Hatch programme.

Meg Farren, General Manager, KFC UK & Ireland, said: “Young people today are facing greater challenges than ever before. The pandemic took away crucial skills and career development opportunities – now, they’re faced with a cost-of-living crisis and an uncertain economy, making it that much harder to land their first job.

“As one of the biggest youth employers in the country, we see first-hand how difficult it is for young people to build the skills and experience they need to enter the world of work in today’s economic climate. This is further exacerbated for those who have faced issues such as being excluded from education or formal training opportunities.

“There are buckets of talent across the UK, but all too often young people are cut out of accessing opportunities. That needs to change. That’s why we’re excited to be bringing our employability programme Hatch across the UK, to invest in the next generation and help unlock the potential of those who’ve faced barriers to employment. Working with UK Youth, Hatch will help young people across the UK to build their skills, confidence and land their first job.”