Sport for Development Coalition charities that focus on employability have been responding to the Chancellor’s announcement of a £2billion ‘Kickstart’ scheme to help young people who are at risk of long-term unemployment.
The fund will subsidise six-month work placements for people on Universal Credit aged between 16 and 24.
It is part of an emergency package aimed at preventing mass unemployment in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Lindsey MacDonald, Managing Director of the sport for employment charity Street League, welcomed the Kickstart scheme and said her organisation was looking forward “to hearing the detail of how and where these investments will be made”.
“Guaranteeing that the right support reaches young people and employers to access these opportunities is critical to ensuring young people who are most in need of support are able to benefit,” said Lindsey.
“We hope that there will be an emphasis placed on youth employment services prior to, and during the initial six-month work placements, to make these solutions sustainable.
“For young people whose opportunities are not continued beyond the six-month period, there needs to be a clear transition back into support so that the skills and experience they gained are not lost. We know that an ongoing cycle of unemployment when young can have devastating consequences throughout a person’s life and career.
“Street League’s Aftercare Service offers in-work support and sees us ensure that six months after going into an opportunity at least 60% of young people who moved into a job are still there or have moved into a new opportunity six months later. Support to transition from one job to another has been particularly critical in the past few months as lockdown changed the shape of the labour market.”
Lindsey warned: “There is a risk that a short-term mindset could only serve to delay the youth unemployment crisis we are trying to avoid.”
Paul Evans, Chief Executive of Leadership Through Sport and Business (LTSB), pointed out that the current generation of young people seeking to start their careers have already lived through austerity and cuts to public services, followed by uncertainty brought on by Brexit and what he believes was a “confused” Apprenticeship Levy roll-out.
Evidence shows the “vulnerable and marginalised always suffer most, and suffer longest” from pandemics, according to Paul.
“For this unluckiest generation, the action required by central Government should be unequivocal,” he said.
“It should be uncompromising in its commitment to creating an education, training and employment landscape that allows the country to build a future on the talent of the next generation of key workers, skilled trades, innovators and entrepreneurs.
“LTSB is proud to be part of the Youth Employment Group, led by Youth Employment UK, that has been putting pressure on the Chancellor to take these steps. After (this) announcement there are grounds for hope.”
Ben Hilton, Chief Executive of the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, agreed with Paul that provision must be made for those furthest from the labour market.
“In the last youth employment spike, we saw that those closer to the labour market benefitted most, and those with greater vulnerabilities and complexities in their lives, were ones who generally became a long-term unemployment statistic.”
He added: “We would also like to see support for these young people during the initial stages of employment. While the announcement of more work coaches is welcomed, additional support and mentoring from people outside of the traditional system can be of great benefit.
“We use elite athletes from a range of sports to mentor and support the young people we work with and we know from experience and evaluation of our programmes, how beneficial this can be.”
Sarah Mortiboys, Chief Operating Officer for Dallaglio RugbyWorks, said: “Dallaglio RugbyWorks welcomes the announcement of the new Kickstart scheme to support young people back into employment.
“As an organisation we work with some of the most at-risk young people who because of circumstances out of their control fall out of education and therefore have a limited chance of achieving their full potential.
“We believe that this just isn’t right and that all young people have the right to achieve and be the best that they can be.
“Kickstart is a welcome addition to the range of interventions that as a sector we have at our disposal and Dallaglio RugbyWorks believes that, if used to their potential, this can really begin to address some of the challenges that we face ahead.”