On Monday, myself and Paul Tucker, Senior Partnerships Manager at DWP spoke at the Inclusion event on Employment and Skills in London. Paul is a member of the Talent Match London Core Partnership (a steering group who oversee the programme’s strategic outcomes) and we were sharing what we have learnt about creating successful cross-sector partnerships, to ensure that the impact of the grant from the Big Lottery Fund is felt way beyond the 2500 young people who will experience the programme and go into sustained education, employment, self-employment or training.
- the importance of co-design to avoid duplicating the statutory sector
- sharing learning on the reasons why over 50 percent of the 100,000 unemployed young people in London are not on JSA and the need for effective outreach
- sharing data on the labour market and what interventions have worked for which young people in which circumstances
Much of what we talked about in terms of the sector found common ground with the audience, and other speakers on the day – with some of the main themes being about finding ways to collaborate as organisations, share learning and work together across health and employability outcomes to ensure all people experiencing unemployment, no matter their starting point in the journey to employment, can progress into fairly-paid work.
However, it struck me that this event really only told half the story. Policymakers and voluntary or statutory services can, and should make the case for more effective collaboration – built into commissioning funding and standards, and part of continuous practice improvement – but what about the employers of all sizes who recruit and of course the service users (young people in our case) themselves?
Last week, some colleagues and I attended Skills London the free careers and skills fair for 16-24 year olds. There were hundreds of representatives from the main employment sectors in the capital, and from FE and training providers who can support young people to gain the qualifications they need to progress in work.
The majority of those attending were young people who came with parents or school – as opposed to an employability provider – but it was still clear to see the powerful impact on each individual as they learnt more about the qualifications and skills they needed for a particular career or course, and the openness of the employers and those in their network, to recruit young people.
Many of the employers we spoke to said that they struggled to fill their vacancies with young people and that they knew they wanted to reach out to the unemployed, and particular target groups, to provide both work and aspiration but didn’t know where to start. So there is clearly still a disconnect.
How much more powerful might these two events have been if all four players – service users, policymakers, employers, and employability services had been together discussing the same topics, making commitments and holding each other to account?