New report recommends further government investment to avoid youth unemployment crisis

13th July 2020

As the Chancellor sets out a £2 billion support package to prevent a youth unemployment crisis in the wake of Covid-19, a new report by Sheffield Hallam University recommends double that amount could be needed.

Sheffield Hallam University was commissioned to evaluate the £108m National Lottery-funded Talent Match programme, a five-year initiative to support Britain's 'hidden' unemployed youth.

The findings are published in a report, Talent Match Evaluation: A Final Assessment, as Chancellor Rishi Sunak outlines measures including a ‘kick-start’ scheme to pay businesses to create jobs for 16-24-year-olds.

The report’s recommendations to policymakers to help prevent a youth unemployment crisis include:

  • Scale of investment: the development of a programme of between £3-5 billion to run over a period of five years. This programme should ring fence at least a quarter of its budget to support those furthest from the labour market.
  • Youth involvement: the crisis faced by young people today differs markedly from the challenges they faced in previous periods of high unemployment. Engagement with the diversity of young people in the design and delivery of the response is essential; tomorrow’s economy and the nature of work is likely to look very different from those of the past.
  • Person-centred approaches and key working: the value of high-quality relationships between participant and employment support provider were found to be crucial to initial and ongoing engagement. This was especially the case for young people furthest from the labour market.
  • Partnership and local employment support ecosystems: Devolution may offer the opportunity to build local employment support ecosystems. These can overcome some of the challenges of short-lived programmes interventions which have constrained employment support for a long time.

The Talent Match programme supported some 25,000 young people across the country aged 16-24 who are neither receiving benefits nor engaged in employment, education or training and who need extra support to find fulfilling employment.

The evaluation carried out by the University’s Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) found its innovative youth-centred design and emphasis on local partnerships was turning the tide on hidden youth unemployment.

It found that of the 25,885 young people supported by Talent Match, 11,940 (46 per cent) secured some form of job, including 4,479 (17 per cent) who secured sustained employment or self-employment.

Other results include high reported levels of job satisfaction, improved wellbeing and a positive social benefit with at least £3.08 of public value generated for every £1 spent on the programme.

Peter Wells, Professor of Public Policy Analysis and Evaluation at Sheffield Hallam University, said:

“In the coming months we will see record levels of youth unemployment in the UK. We know that unemployment has scarring effects which can last lifetimes - on both lifetime income and wellbeing. The long-term costs of not addressing this coming crisis urgently far outweigh the costs of the relatively short-term response.

“Young people, especially those facing multiple barriers will continue to need support regardless of the state of the national economy and the level of unemployment. They will need support in entering and in sustaining employment.

“Addressing youth unemployment requires investment in organisations and partnerships at a local level committed to changing the fortunes of nearly seven million young people in the UK.”

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