Call for participation: Health Foundation and IES youth employment policy project needs your voice

Blog posts

14 Dec 2020

Cristiana Orlando

Cristiana Orlando, Health Foundation Research Fellow

The landscape currently surrounding youth employment and young people more widely is a complex one. While work on the £2bn Kickstart scheme and the recently announced £3bn sister scheme Restart continues, concerns remain beyond the welcomed injection of funds into enhanced job support provision. As I highlighted previously, youth employment support in the UK is highly fragmented and diverse while the spectrum of need among different groups of young people, particularly those who face disadvantage, is wide and complex.

It has already been highlighted, in relation to Kickstart, that change is not going to happen quickly nor all at once, and that the new measures will need time to be embedded into existing service ecosystems and structures. More importantly, as IES director Tony Wilson recently commented in relation to Restart, success will be highly dependent on the extent to which partnership work, particularly with education providers, voluntary and community organisations, will be achieved. Measures will also need to be flexible and adaptable to the needs of each region and locality and to the needs of the diverse groups of young people within these, as local areas, councils, and practitioners on the ground are best-placed to understand and meet the needs of their communities.

The youth employment project that I will be leading as an IES fellow, which is part of the Health Foundation’s Future Health Inquiry programme, comes at a pivotal time. Young people and employment have gained high political and social attention, creating a window of opportunity to get things right - to listen to the voices of young people and of those who support them, and learn from what has been shown to work for them. This could be an opportunity to build back and better, to acknowledge good work as a health outcome and ensure that the economic recovery has young people and good and fair work at its heart. Ultimately, it is an opportunity to invest in a long-term vision which truly understands that good quality youth employment is not only about individual wellbeing in the present. It is also about reducing recurring spells of unemployment, long-term unemployment and impairing health conditions, which will weigh on the state’s shoulders in the future. 

For these reasons, the project I will be leading will focus on local and regional practice and learning around improving access to and quality of work for young people to convey key lessons for policy-makers at a national level. The overall aim of this work will be to promote a focus on young people in the ‘Good Work’ policy agenda and encourage stronger partnerships at central, national, and local level. To do this, over the next three years the project will use a collaborative and place-based approach, focused on co-design and co-creation. It will work across each of the four UK nations, engaging young people, employers, local services and local government to:

  • Understand what works and can work to improve the participation of disadvantaged young people in good quality employment in the long-term
  • Give young people’s voices centrality and visibility, placing them front and centre in the research and providing them with a platform to convey their views to policy-makers
  • Support stakeholders in developing youth employment solutions through tailored, localised, and action-focused research which responds to local need.

To support these ambitions, this blog is a call to all services with a stake in youth employment to become involved in the IES and Health Foundation youth employment policy project.  From practitioners, education providers, and employers to service leaders, researchers, and decision-makers, the project welcomes your support and collaboration. Involvement will be tailored and can include:

  • Sharing your views and expertise to help define issues and priorities, and directly including your voice in the research
  • Having a platform to highlight and champion your work and good practice
  • Supporting the participation of young people and employers in the research, to share their experiences and amplify their voices
  • Getting research support to develop partnership work and youth employment responses in your area

The research particularly encourages the participation of those working to develop youth employment solutions in their local area, such as those involved in the development of Youth Hubs, who would like to share good practice insight or get research support in designing and evaluating these initiatives.

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Any views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Institute as a whole.