From education to employment

Over 21,000 unemployed young people in Greater Manchester face finding work without support

New research has revealed that over 21,000 unemployed young people across GM are falling through the cracks, surviving without state support to find work. The figure features in a report by Greater Manchester Talent Match and is being discussed at their conference at Gorton Monastery today (11 Oct). 

New research has revealed that over 21,000 unemployed young people across GM are surviving without state support to find work.

This figure features in a report by Greater Manchester Talent Match (GM Talent Match), a Big Lottery-funded programme that has been offering one-to-one, long-term support to unemployed young people across the region since 2013.

GM Talent Match refers to this overlooked demographic as ‘hidden young people’. This group do not claim benefits, meaning they are not eligible for most youth employment programmes.

Whilst GM Talent Match has deliberately targeted supporting hidden young people towards employment, the majority of employment support programmes target only ‘known’ young people – those claiming out-of-work benefits.

The reasons behind young people’s decisions not to claim benefits were first explored by GM Talent Match last year. They discovered barriers including offending histories, the stigma associated with claiming benefits and confusion around benefit claiming processes.

Their latest research paper, Still Hidden, focuses on a subgroup of hidden young people who remain living at home with parents, often after low performance and/or disengagement at school/college. At home, without initial pressure to find employment, a cycle of social isolation forms, whereby a lack of exposure to career building activities leads to a decrease in confidence. As a result of this, these hidden young people are known to develop confidence and mental health issues.

With the GM Talent Match programme ending next month, there are concerns over what future regional support for hidden young people will look like.

Support approaches for hidden young people and tackling youth unemployment across Greater Manchester will be addressed at GM Talent Match’s ‘Still Hidden’ conference, which takes place today at Gorton Monastery.

The conference will cover the programme’s key learnings about engaging and supporting young people on a path into employment and the barriers they face, including mental health provision, accessing benefits and knowing what support is available, and how employers can make their employment opportunities more accessible.

Speakers for the event include Dawn Austwick, Chief Executive of Big Lottery Fund, Laura-Jane Rawlings, Chief Executive of Youth Employment UK, Edna Robinson, Chair of the Peoples’ Powerhouse and Councillor Sue Murphy, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council.

Marie Graham, programme manager for GM Talent Match said: “For a city region of Greater Manchester’s status and ambition, it isn’t acceptable to have young people fall through the cracks with their potential and ambitions unrealised.

“Yes, many hidden young people have complex needs and multiple barriers to finding employment. But we have seen that with the right support these can be overcome and young people can find work. These individual’s personal growth and fulfilment also has huge positive knock-on effects to communities and society as a whole.

“GM Talent Match has a proven model for identifying hidden young people and supporting them towards and into employment. 25% of the 2,000 young people we’ve engaged with have been hidden.

“Our support workers, called Talent Coaches, work for community organisations who understand the needs and barriers faced by diverse local populations. Hidden young people are often naturally reluctant at engaging with support. However, they have told us that prior knowledge of a Talent Coach’s face or reputation means they are more willing to work with them.

“Our Talent Coaches’ smaller caseloads and flexibility have also enabled them to work holistically to address hidden young people’s complex needs.”

This community-based approach is one of a series of proposals made by the Still Hidden report.

Other recommendations include:

  • Local Authorities should track young people past the mandatory age of 18 and where possible should share the activity and destination of young people with partners. This would enable policy makers to make informed decisions about how to reach and support ‘hidden’ young people.
  •  All employment support programmes targeting hidden young people should include mental health support and access to these services.
  •  Young people who are identified as being at risk of becoming hidden should be targeted to receive intensive careers education advice and guidance (CEIAG) before leaving education.

Marie Graham added: “We are in the process of applying for funding to continue Talent Match’s work with hidden young people.

“Whilst it is encouraging that the Greater Manchester Strategy has committed to intervening early to make sure young people are not hidden from employment support, it’s important that this translates into real action to ensure these young people get the help they need.”

About Greater Manchester Talent Match: A Big Lottery-funded programme bringing together the private, public and voluntary sectors to support young people aged 18-24 who have been out of employment, education or training for twelve months or more and who need extra support to help them along their pathway to employment. The programme was co-designed with young people and our Youth Panel are at the heart of decision-making throughout.

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