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30 May 2014

30 May 2014

I’ve spent two days this week at Hindleap Warren with the Talent Match London team, youth board and lead delivery partners. As well as being a great opportunity to get to know everyone by building shelters in the forest and toasting marshmallows together on the fire, it also gave me the opportunity to reflect on the progress of Talent Match London, almost six months after we had the investment confirmed from the Big Lottery Fund.

Having had conversations about Talent Match London for nearly two years now, we aren’t apologetic about the length of time we’ve spent on planning and development. We see too many employment programmes designed from the perspective and convenience of providers and commissioners that aren’t centred on young people’s needs. The Talent Match London approach has been genuinely co-designed by young people, employers and statutory agencies from the start and we’ve put significant investment upfront into ensuring everyone involved in both delivery and strategy of Talent Match London has a shared vision for the programme and clear values along which we will deliver.

Delivery has now actually begun. And as you read this, our delivery partners are testing new and creative ways of engaging young people not currently accessing employment services and helping them to build trust in the system. Core to this approach is always starting with the young person themselves – where they are at – and not with the job that we want to get them into. A prime example of this is Hackney CVS who are employing a team of young people as Talent Scouts. They are working alongside Jobcentre Plus to talk to young people about engaging their friends who aren’t signing on and role modelling to JCP advisers what quality youth engagement looks like.  Meanwhile Gingerbread are working with young mums to help them think about how they can channel the motivation and responsibility that comes with parenthood to overcome the practical barriers they face in developing fulfilling careers.

Beyond the specific delivery of the Talent Match London programme, we’re also getting increasing clarity on our ambition for the approach we are taking and what works in supporting young people’s journey to work. We have identified two clear strategic goals towards which we are working:

  1. To make personalised support the norm in young people’s journey to work; recognising that we need to articulate and evidence exactly what we mean by this and the difference it makes in order to influence workforce development and commissioning. As a starting point, we think outreach, long-term support and connected local partnerships are vital to achieving this.

  2. To ensure that employers are able to provide support and opportunities throughout a young person’s journey to work, instead of being seen as the final destination. We’re already working with organisations like Microsoft, Barclays and Transport for London to understand what this might look like in practice and how we quality assure it.

We’ve got a long way to go and a lot to learn still but we hope that six months in, Talent Match London is already at the early stages of being able to clarify and test what works in supporting young people furthest from the workforce into fulfilling careers. We want all young Londoners to benefit from an improving economy, not just those already at the top.

On the final day of the residential our group did an exercise where we had to get a snooker ball along an obstacle course just using short planks of guttering. We were only the second group ever to complete the course on our first attempt, with the first group being a mix of partially sighted young people and those on the autistic spectrum. I left feeling that this bodes well for Talent Match London, both in terms of the strength of teamwork within our partnership and challenging the perceptions of what different contributions diverse young people could make to the workplace. 

This blog was written by Rosie Ferguson, chief executive of London youth.