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Young people speak out about the barriers they face whilst seeking employment

Young people speak out about the barriers they face whilst seeking employment

Tash Bright No Comment

Young people supported by the Talent Match Sheffield City Region (SCR) Programme met to discuss the barriers that face young job seekers. MP Paul Blomfield attended the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) Festival of Social Science event to discover how the Government can help young people to find employment.

The aim of the Festival of Social Science is to understand how social research informs policy and gives a better understanding of the society we live in. Young people’s futures: fulfilling work in the Sheffield City Region was hosted by Sheffield Hallam University and Talent Match SCR to discover solutions to three main priorities: mental health problems and learning disabilities, transport and employer engagement. These issues and potential solutions were fed back to MP Paul Blomfield, to take forward for positive change.

In Sheffield City Region, 20% of young people (30,000) are unemployed. Since 2014, Coaches from Talent Match SCR have supported 1500 18-25 year olds. Of these young people, 27% have experienced mental ill health, 16% have experienced homelessness and 10% have been convicted of a criminal offence. 97% of the people on the programme have received vital one-to-one support.

The group, made of young people and their workers, discussed how young people reporting poor mental health or learning disabilities can be supported whilst searching for employment. Talent Match SCR have been helping to address any issues by increasing counselling support for young people on the programme. It was suggested that services should be more readily available for people who work full time, for instance, evenings and weekends with an online support network.

Laura, a young person on the Talent Match programme said: “Employers need to trial different ways to support people with mental health problems; looking beyond counselling to things like art therapy.”

Kyle, a young person on the Talent Match programme said: “I have Aspergers and some people I work with don’t know how to speak to me, they’ve even asked me if I’ve processed tasks properly. We need to have a campaign about what language should be used to speak about learning disabilities and mental health. I’m lucky; my Talent Match Coach has taken the time to understand me and knows how to talk to me. The one-to-one support I have is very useful.”

Peter Wells, Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research, Sheffield Hallam University, said: “Large employers might have the correct policies and procedures in place but it’s about understanding the individual.”

Some young people on the Talent Match SCR programme felt that they received support whilst searching for employment, but this support was no longer available once they entered employment. It was felt amongst those in employment that employers should engage more with their workers, with transparent feedback, equal treatment of staff and progressing staff ideas. Kyle said: “Employers need to go to the beehive and speak to the bees!”

Transport is often listed as a barrier for young people seeking employment. Some of the young attendees said that they did not feel confident asking if they were on the correct bus and others spoke about how they were unable to find the correct transport as everything is focussed on digital. “Some of the young people we support are homeless and don’t have a phone with internet access, others often have no credit, or their phones aren’t regularly charged. People presume that all young people are digital natives, but that is not the case with the young people we work with. It all comes down to affordability and accessibility” said A participant at the event.

There are many more barriers for young people seeking employment. Talent Match SCR runs a young people’s involvement team, giving those on the programme the chance to have their say and change things for the better. The group have implemented counselling, to assist with mental health problems, workplace buddies and more.

Paul Blomfield MP said: “I’m glad that [Talent Match SCR and Sheffield Hallam University] are doing this work and I’m really keen to hear more about the issues facing young people seeking employment. One of the challenges of being a Member of Parliament is that I represent 113,000 people across Sheffield and knowing what life is like for them; what the issues are and finding the solutions are only possible when we come together.”

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