An innovative project set up to tackle youth unemployment in the UK has led to nearly half of participants finding work, a study by Sheffield Hallam University has found.
Sheffield Hallam University was commissioned to evaluate the Big Lottery Fund’s £108 million Talent Match programme and found its innovative youth-centred design and emphasis on local partnerships was turning the tide for Britain’s ‘hidden’ unemployed youth.
Talent Match is a National Lottery- funded programme set up by the Big Lottery Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK. The five year initiative, launched in 2013, supports ‘hidden youth’ aged 18 to 24 who are neither receiving benefits nor engaged in employment, education or training and who need extra support to find fulfilling employment.
In terms of the headline outcomes of the programme, 41% of participants achieved a job outcome and 18% a job outcome lasting as least six months. Nearly half (46%) had undertaken a work placement or taken up an opportunity to volunteer. But perhaps most significantly, over three-quarters (78%) of Talent Match participants who initially recorded a low well-being score (for example, in terms of life satisfaction) went on to record a higher score at a later stage.
The Big Lottery Fund commissioned an evaluation led by the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) at Sheffield Hallam University with its partners the Institute for Employment Research (IER) at the University of Warwick, City-REDI at the University of Birmingham and Cambridge Economic Associates. Five years on, the reports released at the Talent Match Conference 2018 in Sheffield, illustrated the success of the innovative programme. Sheffield Hallam is the most prominent university in the UK for driving improvements in education and championing social mobility.
“The benefits of employment programmes such as the Big Lottery Fund’s Talent Match programme are wide ranging. The programme has helped over 25,000 young people through addressing barriers to employment including low levels of mental health, practical barriers such as transport and childcare, and how employment can be sustained and fulfilling for young people. A key factor has been the integration of support to meet the needs and aspirations of the young person,” said Peter Wells, Professor of Public Policy Analysis and Evaluation at CRESR.
Two things about Talent Match differ from other employment programmes: it is led by local voluntary and community sector organisations working across 21 Local Enterprise Partnership areas in England, and it is co-designed and co-delivered by young people themselves.
“The research shows the ongoing need to support young people furthest from the labour market. It highlights the important role local voluntary sector led partnerships can play and the different ways young people can be involved in the design and delivery of future employment programmes,” said Professor Wells.
A quarter of young people joining the programme reported having experienced mental ill-health, around 16% had experienced homelessness and 12% had a conviction for a criminal offence.
The local support provided has been wide ranging and varied according to the needs and aspirations of young people: nearly all received one-to-one support, while more targeted support included help with career planning, personal development, counselling and financial support.
“It’s time to start thinking about the process of supporting young people to get jobs as a partnership between the public, private and voluntary sectors, while recognising that well-being is as important as the job itself,” added Professor Wells.
Scott Hignett, head of funding, Talent Match at the Big Lottery Fund, said: “Talent Match is a national programme where each partnership works with young people to help them develop the skills to change their own circumstances and find personalised solutions to any barriers they may face. Yesterday’s conference in Sheffield celebrated the amazing achievements of these young people and it’s brilliant to see the impact of National Lottery funding on young people.
“Thanks to National Lottery players, young people can access support, resources and opportunities that enable them to shape their future in a positive way.”