Government recruits job coaches to help young people facing barriers to work

Experts say DWP’s intensive employment support scheme is vital in avoiding ‘scarring effect’ on groups worst hit by Covid economic fallout

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has recruited 150 youth employability coaches as part of its multibillion-pound Plan for Jobs in an effort to help get young people struggling to find work onto the jobs ladder.

According to the government, under the new scheme young jobseekers aged between 19 to 24 will receive “intensive support and mentoring training” for up to six months from a coach specially trained to support young jobseekers facing significant barriers to work, such as a lack of formal skills or qualifications.

During this time, jobseekers will also have access to training, apprenticeship placements, suitable job opportunities, the sector-based work academy programme and the Kickstart scheme, as well as receiving support for six weeks after they have started work.

Young people were among those worst hit by the economic fallout of the pandemic. According to the Office for National Statistics’ March 2021 Labour market overview, under-25s made up nearly two-thirds of the fall in people in paid employment seen since February 2020, constituting more than 60 per cent of the 693,000 payroll employees who have lost their jobs since that date.

At the time, CIPD senior labour market adviser Gerwyn Davies said the figures laid bare the significant impact the pandemic had had on young people. 

“A plan to support young people with training and job opportunities has to be at the heart of the UK’s economic recovery. As employers rebuild their workforces, they must consider not only paid work through apprenticeships and jobs, but also volunteering and work experience placements for young people,” he added.

Get more HR and employment law news like this delivered straight to your inbox every day – sign up to People Management’s PM Daily newsletter

Davies also joined Recruitment & Employment Confederation chief executive Neil Carberry in calling for reform of the “failed apprenticeship levy”, which is yet to be seen.

Reacting to the DWP’s announcement, Sam Windett, director of policy at Impetus, said: “With young people under 25 accounting for three in five of the jobs lost during the pandemic, the need for quality, joined-up support couldn’t be more urgent.

“Being out of work can have scarring effects, so investing in youth employability coaches and youth hubs, together with specialists and local partners, is vital to offer the support young people need to succeed.”

Mims Davies, minister for employment, said the new coaches would “vitally help young people onto that first rung of the jobs ladder, setting them on track for a successful future”.

“[Young people] just need a chance to show what they’re capable of, but a lack of qualifications and experience can make it tough to get started,” she said.

Youth employability coaches will be stationed at job centres and will also provide guidance on issues such as budgeting, debt management and housing. Additional coaches at specialist youth hubs – also part of the government’s Plan for Jobs – will be co-located and delivered in partnership with external partners such as colleges, charities and local councils, providing access to more services in one location.

The DWP has also hired an additional 13,500 work coaches to help jobseekers of all ages.