To receive a joint presentation from the GFirst LEP and GCC on this issue.
6.1 Pete Carr (Director of Employment and Skills GFirst LEP), Sarah Poultney (Head of Transformation, GCC) and Vikki Walters (Strategic Lead for Inclusive Employment, GCC) shared the following presentation and noted the following key points:
· Slide 3 highlighted key figures and trends within youth unemployment data.
· Slide 4-10 illustrated graphs that supported the figures and trends in slide 3.
· Slide 11 highlighted the main challenges for young people who were unemployed, which included anxiety, lack of confidence, social isolation, wider mental health impacts and financial pressures.
· Slide 12 included a spoken account from a young person’s experience of unemployment who was working at GCC through the Kickstart scheme.
· Slide 13-15 highlighted various support and programmes available to young people.
· Slide 16 explained further developments that GCC were working on which would require member support. The officer explained that funding had been secured for some of the work streams, but other projects were on a temporarily funded basis. Therefore, they would need to prioritise projects due to funding gaps, unless more funding was secured.
· Slide 17 highlighted that they would be taking discussions forward with the Child Friendly Gloucestershire Coalition and encouraged members to let them know if there were any areas they would like a ‘deep dive’ into in future Scrutiny meetings.
Action Pete Carr to share video with members of young people explaining their experience of unemployment
6.2 A member asked that when looking at NEET (young people Not in Education, Employment, or Training) data, whether it was analysed through protected characteristics and were there any initiatives that focused on supporting those with protected characteristics.
6.3 The officer explained that the data was not specifically broken-down in this way, however within some current projects there was data that did enable some analysis of protected characteristics. However, it was more targeted at whether a young person was at risk of becoming NEET.
6.4 It was further questioned how GCC was encouraging and supporting employers to not put unnecessary barriers in the way of NEET and whether there was good engagement with employers across the different sectors.
6.5 The question was welcomed, and the officer agreed this type of engagement was fundamental. There were several businesses they were already working with as part of the employment charter, but there needed to be many more. The engagement would cover matching work experience, practice interviews, career events etc. between schools and local employers. It also tied in with the inclusive employment agenda, which included an ‘inclusive employer award’ specific to Gloucestershire, which involved employers making a commitment to improve and open up recruitment practices to becoming fully inclusive to encourage people from all protected characteristics. It was added that this would be taken forward by the Employment and Skills Hubs and employers would be audited annually to ensure compliance.
6.6 A member raised that the statistics for employee groups other than NEETS, such as the 25-34 and 35-44, were actually experiencing the slowest return to pre-pandemic levels and potentially needed focused intervention as well.
6.7 It was suggested that this could form part of a future discussion as it would involve a more in-depth look at the data and available resource.
ACTION Add item to Committee work plan (DSU)
6.8 Members noted that there was no government or nationally led replacement for the Kickstarter Scheme, which had now come to an end. Any solution or replacement scheme would come down to local authority resources. The officer suggested that work with local partners and the Skills and Employment Hubs would be key.
ACTION To confirm figures for the number of young people who are NEET (page 32 of presentation pack), the 25-34- and 35–44-year-olds. To provide comparison data from previous years (Pete Carr)
6.9 It was advised that there was an ongoing project called ‘Works for Me’ running in Gloucester which aimed to understand the challenges around young people identified as NEET, and how to help rearrange them into education or work placements. It was hoped that over the next few years this project would help to identify barriers to help prevention work in schools. Officers hoped to replicate the programme around the county and advised that over 90% of the young people who came through were reengaging with post 16 education and sustaining it.
6.10 A member asked about the support that would be provided to young Ukrainian and Afghan refugees who may need extra support and help.
6.11 An officer stated that they were looking at developing provision with the Adult Education team because one of the issues was that the population is quite transient, therefore it was tricky for an education provider to put a programme in place plus there was no funding allocated to do it.