Laura-Jane Rawlings, Chief Executive Officer, Youth Employment UK

It is great to see @RishiSunak so committed to his #PlanforJobs, leading the way in creating an ambitious plan for young people and bringing stakeholders together to support that plan. Government Departments are working flat out to deliver these plans and once lockdown is lifted we will hopefully start to see the tide turn for young people.

We know that young people have been hit hard, they have been hit hard on a lot of fronts - education, employment and training opportunities are all affected, but also on a very personal level, their futures feel very different than they did 12 months ago, the rise in mental health challenges, loneliness and poverty is amplifying challenges that were already too big for the systems around them.

This is why we have to be even more ambitious with policies and investment for young people. It feels like this perfect storm is the perfect moment to think bigger and better.

In the recent APPG for Youth Employment Report - Making youth employment policy work a set of recommendations were put forward to help the government see the tensions and opportunities in the current plans. Central was a call to have a joined-up approach across key departments to ensure that the journey between education and employment is more connected than ever, making sure policies across departments are complementary and use their investment to maximum effect. Cross-department working can also prioritise young people facing the greatest barriers, ensuring that no one is left behind.

You need good, ambitious national policies implemented at a local level, so the APPG recommended building on the DWP plans for Youth Hubs to make them central to delivery of education, employment and training policies. The hubs could be even more ambitious than that and bring young people, health services, civil society and opportunities together; a place for communities to engage and thrive.

There is so much evidence about what works, through the Youth Employment Group we have been building the knowledge, evidence and partnerships that can really deliver some of these plans. And we are delighted that so many colleagues across the civil service have engaged with the group and utilised the collective power and insight it has.

At Youth Employment UK we have developed some of the best digital support for young people and employers that aim to complement the current system, but most of all bridge the gaps. Young people have co-developed our Young Professional Programme which provides personalised, programme support to 14-24 year olds on their journey to work. And the Good Youth Employment Charter helps to recognise and support organisations to provide quality opportunities for young people, something else young people repeatedly tell us they need. Bringing together the very best online and face to face support is key for the #PlanforJobs.

All of this needs national leadership, someone who is ambitious and sees the potential in all of our young people. Between Rishi Sunak and Mims Davies you have two leaders who really get this, but can they go beyond the expected and do something truly transformative that lasts?

Laura-Jane Rawlings, Chief Executive Officer, Youth Employment UK

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