Girls in gangs ‘face greater mental health risks’

A report by the Centre for Mental Health found that young women who associate with gangs are on average three times more vulnerable than other children in the system.

Following screening assessments of 8,000 young people at the point of arrest, researchers found that young women involved with gangs were more likely to display a range of risk factors and health issues including poor mental health, family conflict, homelessness and victimisation.

The report, A Need to Belong, reveals that more than a quarter of girls involved with gangs have a suspected mental health problem and 30 per cent had either self-harmed or were judged as being at risk of suicide.

Nearly 40 per cent of girls in gangs had behavioural problems before the age of 12, and were more than three times more likely to have a history of running away and exclusion from school.

They were also three times more likely to have experienced violence, neglect at home and sexual abuse.

Sean Duggan, chief executive of the Centre for Mental Health said it is clear that girls with the most problems are being drawn in to gang culture.

He said: “The reasons girls join gangs are often quite different to boys of a similar age.

“Whereas low self-esteem in boys usually means they are less likely to join a gang, girls with low self-esteem are more likely to get sucked into the gang lifestyle because it offers them a sense of security and an ‘alternative family’.”

Duggan said that the “only way” to prevent vulnerable young women being drawn into gangs is by intervening early to tackle the risk factors.

“By intervening early with proven programmes that improve behaviour we can reduce that risk.

“We can protect against gang involvement by working to strengthen girls’ self-esteem, reduce maltreatment and respond quickly to the first signs of mental ill health.”

John Poyton, chief executive of London-based youth work charity Redthread, said girls and gangs is a “hidden issue”.

The charity has youth workers based at the accident and emergency department at King’s College Hospital in London.

“Young women present at A&E who are victims of gang violence, but because they don’t present with obvious injuries, such as knife wounds, they become the unrecognised victims of gang violence.

“A lot will turn up with sexual health concerns, in need of emergency contraception, or pregnancy tests – the kind of things A&E can’t help them with.”

The Youth Justice Board is working to spread best practice on intervention projects targeted at girls that address the specific issues they are likely to face.

Financial services needs to ensure that it has a supply of new blood to ensure the industry continues to fulfil its potential

Despite the UK economy avoiding a triple-dip recession, new unemployment statistics paint a grim picture for young people, with experts predicting that unemployment will continue to slow the growth of the economy. The Office of National Statistics has reported that over 2.56 million people are out of work and this is forecast to increase to 2.6 million by 2014. Young people are worst hit, with 979,000 16 to 25 year olds currently seeking work. It was also reported that 900,000 job seekers have been out of work for more than a year.

The financial services sector has contributed to these unemployment figures by cutting thousands of jobs over recent years. That said, it is being reported that job vacancies rose in the first quarter of 2013 (up from 5,859 to 7,308 in the first quarter) compared to the same period last year, according to recruitment firm Morgan McKinley. Whilst companies continue to make redundancies, recruiters have recently seen an increase in employers hiring more compliance-related roles as a result of increasing regulation. These roles are in high demand given the strong regulatory drive across the sector.

The financial services industry is a key contributor to the UK economy and employment statistics. There are around 1.2 million staff in 34,000 workplaces, ranging from online car insurers to retail banking giants, from self-employed professional financial advisers to global investment banks. The financial services workforce is made up of 29 per cent employed in administration or secretarial roles, with approximately 30 per cent in associate professional and technical roles. The remaining 40 per cent are in managerial roles, including owners in private companies and self-employed roles.

Growth in UK financial services has generally been weak when compared to other countries, notably the United States. In addition, we have experienced a decline in staff turnover as fewer vacancies are available and people opt to stay with existing employers rather than take the risk of moving somewhere new.

A recent survey undertaken by Robert Half International highlighted some of the challenges we face, with 89 per cent of financial services executives highlighting the challenge of finding skilled financial services professionals. As a sector we have struggled to attract young people, and more so in recent times, with people choosing alternative career paths as a result of negative industry perceptions in the wake of the banking crisis. That makes it even more important for us to build a strong and healthy pipeline of talent, to restore the industry’s credibility and reputation.

Youth enterprise schemes ‘backfire’

university students

Attempts to inspire young people to start businesses are backfiring by alienating would-be business owners with “outdated” views of entrepreneurship and poorly conceived schemes, according to a new report.

Support programmes for fledgling business owners are “misdirected and out of touch”, research by the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) found, with too much emphasis on perceptions of entrepreneurs as “isolated, highly driven, risk- taking mavericks”.

Large, nationwide policies designed to boost youth enterprise are proving ineffective, researchers said, arguing that more emphasis should be put on “small scale support that’s built on experimentation at a [regional] grass roots level” – which the RSA said is more effective than “grand policy solutions” and the “burgeoning enterprise support industry”.

The Government has attempted to boost youth enterprise with nationwide schemes such as StartUp Loans, which offers student-style low-interest loans to young people starting companies. 

The scheme has now provided 2,000 loans to young people – with a typical loan of £4,500 complimented by business advice. James Caan, who chairs the initiative, said it is “only scratching the surface” of the demand from young people for business finance.

However, the RSA said there is too much emphasis on start-up finance, leaving the large numbers of young entrepreneurs who prefer to build the initial stages of their business on a shoestring “overlooked”.

Unemployed teenagers blame lack of computer skills

Almost one-in-five young people not in education, employment or training (Neets) believe their computer skills are not good enough for the job they want to do.teenagers at computer

A similar number (17 per cent) said they believed they would be in work if they could use a computer better, while one-in-ten are “embarrassed” by their lack of computer skills, according to a poll by the Prince’s Trust.

The figures follow Michael Gove’s announcement earlier this year that Computer Science will be added to the English Baccalaureate – a small group of approved academic subjects used as a key indicator in school league tables – in order to help plug the computer skills gap among young people.

Top technology firms including Facebook have also been asked to help design a new computer science training course for teachers.

The Prince’s Trust poll asked more than 1,300 British 15 to 25 year-olds – including 265 Neets – about their computer skills.

It found that about one-in-four (24 per cent) said they dreaded filling in online job application forms. More than one-in-10 (11 per cent) of the Neets questioned said they avoid using computers.

The survey was published to mark the launch of a new Prince’s Trust scheme designed to engage schoolchildren with science and technology. Under the initiative, staff from the Science Museum will visit Prince’s Trust clubs in schools to work with young people who are at risk of exclusion or underachieving.

Prince’s Trust chief executive Martina Milburn said: “A lack of computer literacy can hold young people back and this is damaging their job prospects. Without basic computer skills, young people will not be able to pursue career paths and passions because they can’t get a foot in the door.

“With youth unemployment on the rise again, we need to arm our young people with the skills they need in today’s tough jobs market. Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) skills are a crucial part of this.”

The scheme follows a £500,000 donation to the Trust last year by musician said: “Inspiring young people through science and technology is a powerful tool and I am proud to see my donation to the Prince’s Trust being put into action to help engage disadvantaged youth who would not otherwise have access to technology and science education.

“These workshops are an amazing way to engage disadvantaged youngsters who don’t have this sort of access to technology and science otherwise.”

Financial future bleak for a whole generation of young people

Sophie Robson at Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation has concerns about the financial future of ‘Generation Y’.group of young adults

Young people face unique challenges in saving for a pension. They are now largely on their own when it comes to retirement planning. Final salary pension schemes enjoyed by their parents are all but closed to new members, and existing personal pension schemes are confusing.  Life expectancies are increasing – and with it, the pension needed  to fund a comfortable retirement.

These, combined with a lack of knowledge about pensions, risks creating a ticking time bomb.

Young people now have little option but to start saving for retirement early in their working lives. Just 13% of employers still offer a final salary pension to new employees.  Attitudes to employment have changed: employees are likely to change companies (and careers) regularly, so companies no longer have the same responsibilities to their employees.

Sadly, understanding of pensions and access to information lags behind this change. A 2012 report by the CSFI, the London-based financial services think-tank, young people were unsure of how they worked, or in 40% of cases, what type it was. Although the majority recognised the importance of contributing to one, many struggled to find the spare cash to do so, especially as many were still paying off student debt. Others felt that years of government tinkering had left the future of pensions uncertain, inflexible and vulnerable to rising inflation – not to mention confusing. This was putting young people off paying into a pension scheme.

Another survey by Blackrock found that while young people expected to retire on a pension of £30,000 per year, only one in ten were actively saving towards a pension. Given that one in four 21 year olds can now expect to live to 100 – according to recent ONS figures – this would require them to build up a pension pot of at least £600,000, assuming they retired at age 67.

The government has stepped in, announcing changes to the way state pensions are paid. From 2017, pensioners will be given a single, flat-rate payment of £144 per week, rising with inflation. It hopes this will simplify the way the state system works, and cut out uncertainty.

Secondly, auto-enrolment, in force in larger UK companies since October 2012, aims to normalise making regular contributions to a workplace pension scheme – at the moment, just 30% of young people are contributing to one. Anyone over the age of 22 earning at least £8,105 per annum will now be automatically enrolled into a scheme unless they explicitly opt-out. If a sum of money disappears from gross incomes, as with student loan repayments, young people are less likely to see it as a financial burden. However, auto-enrolment risks causing unintended consequences for young people: the amount saved is unlikely to be enough to guarantee a comfortable retirement in itself.  The maximum contribution, equivalent to 8% of earnings, will only apply to qualifying earnings from £5,564 to £42,475 in the current tax year. So for an average earner, this would only be equal to £4,200 per year saved.

So young people still need to make other provisions for later life, particularly those on an average salary. This could mean actively contributing to other pension schemes – such as a SIPP, or investing in other savings vehicles, such as tax-efficient ISAs.

However, this is not as easy as it sounds. Another hurdle younger people face is that it is difficult for them to build up assets, compared with their parents at a similar age. The average age for first time house buyers is now 35 (according to research by the Post Office), compared to just 23 in the early 1960s. Stocks and shares remain volatile, with investors being forced to make increasingly sophisticated decisions in order to gain the same yields. At the other end of the spectrum, parents, who are also living longer than their own parents, are eating into inheritances, which would have given their offspring some measure of financial independence in later life.

A growing number of young people, and policy makers, believe the existing pension model is outmoded. A generation which is already weighed down with debt, as a result of student loans and diminishing job prospects, is then being asked to lock away a proportion of their salaries for decades, against a backdrop of increasing economic uncertainty. In the intervening years, they will need to find sufficient funds for necessities such as buying houses, cars and eventually raising a family. These purchases all require large capital expenditure, and they are likely to find it increasingly frustrating when they find that, even though they have built this up in a pension fund, they are unable to access it. There is also the risk that they will have to take on debt to pay for it. Not only this, but in some cases, it may not make sense to save. Means testing – particularly with regard to social care – raises the risk that it might be counterproductive to save.

So the problems are clear, even if the solutions are not. Recent government intervention may go some way to mitigating these problems, but it remains to be seen how pension schemes can evolve to meet the changing needs of Generation Y-ers as they move to the next stages of their lives.

Sophie Robson is the author of the recent CSFI ( report on young people and personal finance “Generation Y: the (modern) world of personal finance”, and is a regular commentator on issues affecting young people and financial services.

Advertising and Young People

The Advertising Standards Authority’s (ASA) report ‘Advertising and Young People’, provides an interesting insight into the views and concerns of parents, teachers and young people (aged 12-15) around the role media might play in the sexualisation and commercialisation of childhood and the potential for moral harm.



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Unemployment rises to 2.5 million – a 17-year high

Unemployment has risen to 2.53 million, the highest it has been since 1994, with the rate of youth unemployment soaring to a 20-year peak. Ministers, however, are keen to highlight the expansion in private-sector employment over the past year, up 428,000 and in line with the Coalition’s aim of “rebalancing” the economy. One factor may be that record numbers of older people are working beyond retirement age. The Office for National Statistics points to a rise of 200,000 in the number of over 65-year-olds in work since 2009, bringing the total to 900,000.

Source: Telegraph

Michelle, Account Manager

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