By Stephen Savage, Chair of the Humber LEP Employment and Skills Board
Young people are dis proportionally hit by the impact of economic crises. In the financial crash of 2008, there was a large rise in young people not in education, employment, or training (NEETs), and while we are still in the early days of the COVID-19 economic crisis, we can see that young people in the Humber have been hardest hit by lockdown job losses.
The effect on young people could be keenest felt when the Job Retention Scheme ends, as could the changing labour market, with significant impact on sectors popular with young people such as hospitality and retail. Many young people have also lost their apprenticeships as a result of the pandemic.
We also know that in terms of health and wellbeing, young people who were socially excluded before the Covid-19 now face deeper challenges, while there will also be a large impact on the overall mental health of those young people affected.
The Government has recognised the obstacles facing young people at the start of their careers, who are not as resilient as those many years further along, and has issued many support measures – which are welcomed by the Humber LEP.
These support measures include the doubling the number of work coaches to 27,000 by March 2021, a £2bn ‘Kickstart’ job creation scheme to provide high quality six-month paid work placements from Autumn 2020, and an expanded youth offer to support 18 to 24 year olds, including a 14 week programme with supported progression to further training or apprenticeships
However, while support from central government is hugely welcomed, we believe that a joint, co-operative response at a local level can have a hugely beneficial impact on the prospects for young people, and the Humber LEP are working with partner organisations across the region to ensure no young person is left behind.
While the picture in the Humber is not dissimilar to the national picture, the Humber does have strengths it can play to when creating a strategy for supporting jobs for young people. One of these positives is that the Humber is the Energy Estuary – and that increased provisions for new green jobs in our region has the potential to provide more job opportunities for young people.
Government support and industry backing are especially needed for jobs in emerging sectors such as clean growth, but through a cross-Humber support approach involving anchor institutions, the Local Authorities, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the LEP working together under one umbrella at a strategic and operational level we can ensure we are doing all we can for young people and ensuring there are opportunities for young people here in the Humber.
Currently, Jobcentre Plus are working with partner organisations to set up Youth Hubs across the Humber, which will concentrate on support such as help with job search, helping young people to access benefits and other forms of support including mental health and emotional wellbeing. It is especially important to make sure that, given how much more likely young people are to fall through the cracks and not seek this support, those with disabilities or health conditions are not left even further behind.
The Humber has long been creating opportunities for young people through partnership working with organisations such as the Humber Learning Consortium, who provide support for those young people not currently engaged with Jobcentre Plus services, and are therefore the people most in need of help to get into work.
Another example of this partnership working during the pandemic is the Humber Jobs Fuse. The Humber LEP worked with the Education Development Trust, National Careers Service and DWP to develop the service, which provides support for those who have been made redundant during the pandemic, while also supporting employers who either may have to make redundancies or who may have staff shortages.
While organisations can create a wide breadth of measures to support young people into work, we also need employers to make any scheme a success. This is why we are calling on the region’s employers to take several steps to support our young people – through steps such as offering work experience and traineeship placements, provide mentorship, recruit trainees and apprentices and encourage partners and companies within their supply chains to follow suit.