World Youth Skills Day 2024

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Gateley Legal

Young people can bring a wealth of different qualities into a business. From fresh ideas and approaches to a rapidly changing market, to their passion for and knowledge of modern-day technology. Despite this, young people (aged 16-24) are almost three times more likely to be unemployed than adults and are continuously exposed to lower quality of jobs.

World Youth Skills Day, this year taking place on 15 July, aims to emphasise the need for imparting the right skills to young people for future employment. It focuses on bridging the gap between education and employment, emphasising the need to provide young people with relevant, marketable skills.

Hiring young people, whether that be as work experience, through an apprenticeship scheme or by providing them with an opportunity for a junior role with scope to progress, can bring so many benefits to a business. Below are some of the benefits that young people can bring to the workplace:

  • Flexibility – young people are open to trying new things, so will be flexible in supporting on a wide range of responsibilities in the workplace.
  • Diversity – young people can bring a diverse approach to the workplace in terms of their skillset, outlook and interests.
  • Willingness to learn – young people going into the workplace are keen to impress, so will embrace the opportunity to learn new skills.
  • Insights and connections into the market – young people can bring a youthful insight into the current market.
  • Adoption of new workplace technology – young people are typically quick to adopt new technologies and can bring this passion and expertise into the workplace when new systems are introduced.
  • Strong retention rates – more specifically to those taking the apprenticeship route, these young people often stay committed to the employer with whom they undertake their apprenticeship. Some degree apprenticeships can be for a duration of six years and according to the Skills Funding Agency, 65% of apprentices will stay working for the same company that trained them after completion of the course.

The above benefits are in no way exclusive to younger people, and many more experienced employees will likely bring the same skills and behaviours. However, those younger employees on work experience or apprentice schemes may approach things from a different perspective to complement their more experienced colleagues.

How do the employment rights of young people differ from those of their colleagues?

The vast majority of employment rights of young people, apprentice or otherwise, do not differ from those that permanent employees benefit from. They are equally protected against the event of unfair dismissal, discrimination, unlawful deduction of wages and so on. However, there are a few additional differences to highlight, such as:

  • If the young worker is aged 16-17, there are restrictions on night-time working preventing them by law from working between 12am and 4am. They usually cannot work between 10pm and 7am, but exemptions apply if working in retail, a catering business, hotel, public house, restaurant, bakery, hospitals, post or newspaper delivery or agriculture.
  • The adequacy of rest breaks must also be considered, young workers aged 16-17 will be entitled to a 30-minute break if the shift is longer than four and a half hours.
  • National Minimum Wage entitlement does apply to young workers aged 16-17 and is currently £6.40 per hour.
  • Apprentices on an approved apprenticeship scheme are entitled to the Apprentice Minimum Wage, currently £6.40 per hour. Where this rate is paid, care is needed to ensure that those apprentices aged 19 and who have completed the first 12 months of their apprenticeship are moved onto the appropriate age-related National Minimum Wage band.
  • The usual paid holiday rights will also apply to young workers, including apprentices – the Working Time Regulations 1998 provide all workers with a right to 5.6 weeks holiday per year which they will accrue during the time that they are contracted to work.
  • Government funding for apprentices’ training is generally tiered according to age, with higher funding for younger apprentices. There are so-called ‘incentive payments’ for recruiting a young apprentice (aged between 16 and 18), but it is risky for employers to put an upper age limit on applicants for their schemes based on funding eligibility, as this could directly discriminate against older applicants, unless the employer can show that the limit is objectively justified.
  • It is a legal requirement for apprentices to spend at least 20% of their working hours dedicated to ‘off-the-job’ training. Despite this obligation, this ‘off-the-job’ training can be flexible and doesn’t always mean that the apprentice is out of the workplace one day every week.
  • In addition, there is a duty to ensure that any work provided is suitable considering the individual’s age and vulnerability, ensuring that suitable training and support is provided.

Generally speaking, employers should ensure that apprentices’ terms of employment are consistent with those of other employees. With most apprentices being younger than the rest of the workforce, any differences in their terms and conditions may need to be objectively justified, although it is not unlawful to pay an apprentice less than the adult rate for the National Minimum Wage. All young workers and apprentices are entitled to statutory maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental pay and sick pay.

There are also health and safety laws to consider in that employees are provided with a safe place of work and risk assessments should take into consideration a young individual’s age and inexperience to ensure that adequate safeguards are in place.


It is clear to see the benefit young people can bring into an organisation and with the legal obligations being relatively straight forward to manage, it is something all employers should be considering to help develop the leaders of the future.

About the author

Eve Gregory joined Gateley’s legal apprentice scheme in 2018 as a Paralegal Apprentice whilst also studying at university. Now in her fifth Year as a Solicitor Apprentice, Eve is keen to share her own experience of being hired as a young worker and highlight the importance of World Youth Skills Day in shining the spotlight on recruiting young people.

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