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22 January 2014

Wednesday 22 January 2014

I’ve forgotten how many times I have woken up to the news about the state of youth unemployment, and even though today’s figures have shown a drop, it is still dangerously high – too many young people are missing out on jobs and opportunities. And there is a risk that people have got so used to hearing this that they begin to believe that nothing more can be done. Well, the young people and youth organisations we work with DO believe that more can be done, and more needs to be done. So I’m pleased to say that today is the day we officially launch Talent Match London, which we hope will make a genuine difference to young people, and the communities in which they live.

For the past 18 months we’ve been working with young people, youth organisations, employers, Jobcentre Plus, Work Programme providers, academics and a whole host of other people to consider and design what employment programmes for young people who need the most support could look like in an ideal world.

Even though there are many programmes and players in the youth employment arena in London, young people consistently tell us that gaining opportunities for fulfilling jobs and careers are the things they worry about the most. Everyone involved in supporting young people into work; whether they’re a charity, statutory service or employer, all agree that things can be improved. Meanwhile employers want to recruit young people but they need support to provide the sustainable, supported and flexible opportunities that young people need.

Talent Match London is a youth-led, partnership approach to supporting long-term unemployed young people aged 18-24 into positive, productive futures. Through a distinctive ‘youth work’ approach to employability, Talent Match London aims not only to get young people into jobs, but also to equip them with the skills, capabilities and desire to navigate a fulfilling career pathway. Talent Match London will target young people facing those barriers which are shown to be the most challenging in terms of employment. These include parenting and caring responsibilities; disability; and low educational attainment. As many as 30% of young Londoners who are not in work or education face some form of disability. For many, these and other barriers mean they are currently not engaged with the benefits or education system at all. Through individual ‘Talent Plans’, we will build on each young person’s passions and talents to support and challenge them to become the best they can be.

With £10m of support from the Big Lottery Fund we will work with community partners to try new ways of supporting what will work, evaluate it robustly and look to scale effective practice. The Talent Match London approach is different.

  • For a start, we have built outreach into the programme as an essential first step – so we’ll work with local voluntary organisations, local authorities, young people in peer groups, and other partners to find the young people who are missing out
  • We’ll offer everyone on the programme one-to-one support – at the moment, the job centres and work programme simply don’t have the resources to offer the sustained help and backing that some young people need. Imagine if you’ve been rejected by a load of employers – your confidence is bound to be affected – and you are likely to need more help to find work or training
  • We’re working with employers from the very start – lots of employers want to hire young people but don’t feel they know how – we’ll work with them to give them the skills and confidence to properly support young employees
  • And we’ll offer young people real transferable skills to help them stay in work or education, and genuine preparation for the world of work, rather than simply getting young people into any job, then risk failing and having to go back to the beginning

Aside from how the programme will be delivered, the other thing that makes Talent Match London different is the set of values which will underpin the programme. Young people have told us that our programme needs to be individual  and owned – with young people taking responsibility for themselves and their own career goals; connected – therefore helping young people create positive and useful networks; and hopefully fun, and using an approach common to youth work where young people’s needs are at the front and centre.

By working with employers and other providers, we hope we can influence procedures and practice so that these values become part of mainstream employability services.

Finally, we have created through the programme a robust ‘journey of change’ for young people taking part. And we’ve carefully chosen our delivery partners, who include Collage Arts, Gingerbread, Hackney CVS, The Prince’s Trust, 3SC and Community Links, so that they will embed this journey and the Talent Match London values into their work with 2,500 young people over the course of the programme. Meanwhile, London Youth will be working to ensure that learning from delivery is aggregated and communicated to policymakers, funders and employers.

We’re really excited about finally commencing delivery of Talent Match London. It has been quite a journey already but we are well aware that the real hard work only starts now.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped us get to this point:  the initial core partnership team for all their input and the delivery partners who we can’t wait to work with over the next five years; the team at CESI; and of course the youth board, without whom Talent Match London would not be happening.

I’d also like to thank Phil, Nicola and Storm from London Youth who have lived and breathed the Talent Match London pillars and values day and night for the last year.

At the first youth board meeting all those months ago they gave us a clear instruction: “Don’t let us down”. I really hope that we can do them, along with the thousands of other young people across London who struggle to find work, justice over the five years ahead.

For more information about Talent Match London:

Visit the website: www.talentmatchlondon.org

Follow us on twitter: @TalentMatchLDN

Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/TalentMatchLondon

You can also read the full CESI report here.

Or to find out more about Talent Match nationally, visit the Big Lottery Fund’s website:

http://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/global-content/programmes/england/talent-match