Sheffield City Council Youth Services staged its latest Training Provider Network meeting on Thursday 22 April via MS Teams. The event was attended by almost 20 different organisations including DWP, Sheffield City Council, charities, Sheffield Wednesday FC and various independent training providers from across the region.
Here’s a quick recap of the meeting for those who were unable to attend:
Tony Sinclair – Street League
Street League’s football-based employability programme is recruiting again for 17 May start. The charity has been supporting people into jobs and education throughout the pandemic but is looking forward to being able to fully engage with young people in the community. Street League is aiming to double engagement numbers over the coming months.
NEETs Update from Deborah Parker, SCC Service Manager, Performance and Analysis Service
Deborah’s team produces information for officers within the local authorities in relation to NEET young people. Latest figures indicate that 4.2% of young people out of 11,000 are NEET or status ‘not known’. 390 are actively looking for opportunities in education & training, while 104 are not looking to engage due to other circumstances (illness, pregnancy, carer etc) and working with community youth teams to progress towards job / training search.
Sheffield currently has a high rate of NEET young people relative to other cities in the UK, ranking 121 out of 151 local authorities. So there is room for improvement. Sheffield compares more favourably against core cities Sheffield, being roughly on a par. In terms of ‘not known’ young people, the city is ranked 131, but this status is improving. Covid has had an impact on ‘not known’ numbers (382 16-17-year-olds, with 107 we don’t have up to date contact details for).
Deborah explained that SCC relies on providers and support workers to help keep young people’s contact information up to date. Information re: starters and leavers on programmes allows targeting of resources to help contact young people. SCC will be speaking to stakeholders, including training providers, as it bids to seek more regular information and explain how this data can be shared securely
Labour Market Information from Cheryl Plant – Pathways and Progression Manager at SCC Lifelong Learning
Cheryl noted that SCC has been compiling information relating to Youth unemployment across wards over the last few weeks. She explained the challenges in the current environment and the importance of the SME community in terms of generating jobs opportunities, particularly with a significant increase in the number of young people claiming Universal Credit.
A number of notable issues were highlighted, including the many young people presenting with mental health barriers, young people being enrolled in education but potentially not attending, digital poverty, a disproportionate effect of the furlough scheme, long-term economic scarring, a decline in the number of apprenticeship vacancies. Cheryl suggested that all of this feeds into abandoned ambitions. A recent study from The Prince’s Trust indicated that 39% of young people have lost hope for their careers as a result of Covid and economic decline.
In Sheffield, there is evidence to suggest young people from BAME backgrounds and those with learning disabilities and difficulties have been particularly affected by Covid. A potential need for targeted support for these demographics was mooted. Cheryl explained that SCC is actively seeking additional investment to support activity to tackle youth unemployment, however there are funds the Council can’t apply for. She urged community providers to use the ward-level information available to strengthen their bids for funding, and reach out to SCC for support and guidance if it will be beneficial.
DWP Update from Jillian Goodison, Youth Offer Co-ordinator, Department for Work and Pensions
Jillian explained that JCP offices reopened to all customers on April 12th, with a Covid secure environment in place – a phased approach to ensure conditions are safe for staff and customers. Key priorities are (1) customers claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, as many have had payments automatically made (2) new-style JSA – new claimant commitments are being drawn up (3) young people claiming Universal Credit – face-to-face meetings are being arranged as this interaction is very useful for this customer group.
JCP is doing lots of work with youth customers. From last July when the govt announced the Youth offer, including 13-week programme for young people, Youth Hubs opening up across the country and district, Kickstart Scheme and Youth Employability coaches. JCP is working very hard to engage with customers in first 13 weeks using digital and telephony, but now Jobcentres are open.
Sheffield College is currently delivering a Youth Hub, with further hubs potentially to follow in liaison with Sheffield City Council. Activity is also ongoing in Rotherham via RUFC and in Barnsley. Youth Hubs have been operating on a virtual platform to date, with youth coaches able to refer for IAG sessions and action planning at the earliest opportunity in the claim. Referrals need to be made for 18-24s via a work coach at the Jobcentre.
Gillian is co-ordinating the face-to-face opening of Youth Hubs across the district – the first one to open will be the Rotherham hub. This will allow young people to visit in person to get information. DWP work coaches will be placed in the hubs to assist those who may not be sufficiently engaging in the Jobcentre.
Youth Employability Coaches (YECS)
Gillian drew attention to JCP provision of youth employability coaches (YECS), who work with 16-24s with multiple complex needs or barriers. These include care leavers, carers ex-offenders, gangs, drugs, refugees, domestic violence, modern day slavery, chaotic lifestyles, mental health, low aspirations. Employability coaches will be going out into the community to meet young people where they feel most comfortable (from May 17th). E.g. community location, gym, coffee shop – wherever they feel they will be able to open up and speak. This model is designed to give young people the confidence to go to the appointment; YECS can go along with them to provide additional support.
Employability coaches are not immediately focused on work progressions, but as the engagement progresses this conversation can start. YECS can provide ‘hand-holding’ if and when young people go into work to help ease the transition into the workplace. They have already been recruited by JCP, but more vacancies are coming up, plus vacancies for Youth Hub coaches.
Gillian addressed questions relating to Kickstart, in relation to perceived lack of applications for the paid placement scheme. She highlighted some of the challenges, including a discrepancy between the number interests logged on journals and actual applications for roles. JCP is working hard to encourage more applications and engaging with employers to match up candidates to suitable roles. There is a large and ever-growing, ever-changing list of Kickstart vacancies – difficult to distribute to providers on a regular basis due to the evolving nature of the list as roles get filled.
Addressing a question about the potential for Kickstart to displace apprenticeships, Gillian explained the DWP sees Kickstart as being targeted at those at real risk of being NEET, whereas apprenticeships are aimed at different levels of customer skills and application-wise. She agreed that the Kickstart to apprenticeships pathway could be strengthened to ensure Kickstart candidates progress into long term training and employment.
Alex Timmins-Jones – Sheffield Wednesday Community Programme
Alex from the Sheffield Wednesday traineeship programme pointed out that SWFC traineeships can help bridge the skills gap for pre-apprenticeships. Noted that the SWFC traineeship programme is seeing job outcomes and there are vacancies for new starters. SWFC works closely with partner companies e.g. caterers, hospitality firms, NHS etc to create vacancies for young people that are not sport-related.
Alex’s colleague Ed Kinsey explained that there are currently 9 Kickstart employees at Sheffield Wednesday and further vacancies available. Wraparound support is available for Kickstart candidates via SWFC’s employability tutor.
Catherine Rimmer – The Sheffield College
The Sheffield College is currently recruiting for all classes from entry level through to Foundation Degree. Highlighted the success of UP Fest, which was supported by 55 local organisations and well-attended by young people (close to 500 on the day for a virtual event).
Sheree Dawkins – Project Aspire, Sheffield City Council
Project Aspire is an innovative venture that provides integrated and individualised care to vulnerable and complex young people from one central hub. Sheree is part of a team that works on transitions for young people from care to supported living, housing etc – looking at the education and training options for Project Aspire customers. She noted that the interconnection between housing and career options and the value of connecting with training providers and other stakeholders to create opportunities for young people.
Fiona Fletcher – Sheffield City Council
Fiona introduced herself as a new SCC staff member working on the Business Education Alliance, connecting schools with local employers to boost the employability agenda and create careers pathways. SCC is seeking employers who are eager to engage with local schools to this extent.
Haydn Cahill – National Horseracing College
Haydn is an Engagement Assistant at the National Horseracing College – seeking opportunities and progressions for 14-18-year-olds within an interest in horseracing (40-mile radius of Sheffield). The college offers a residential course which may be suited for people who need education and accommodation, with the potential to find work.
Employment opportunities could be in the racing industry as a jockey, trainer, support staff – there are approximately 85K jobs in the sector. Horse care is the most popular pathway for learners. There are also equestrian, dressage, veterinary courses available which are non-residential. The college is reopening to visitors who can look around, meet the horses etc from 23 April.
Jo Bushby – Total Training Provision
Jo spoke about an upcoming open day for traineeships including digital . She explained that while Total is located out of Sheffield, free transport is provided to its Doncaster centres. Courses are available from 10 May, with an open day on 29 April.
Jayne Vose – Chair SCR Provider Network and Board
Jayne raised a potentially problematic issue- the number of unfunded learners in the system at present. ESFA has given many learners a break in learning, which she said may be questionable in the context of people’s mental health and levels of engagement. Some young people have disengaged during Covid. Jayne noted that this is being pursued with the Treasury.
Jayne sits on the Skills Advisory Network which represents stakeholders across the Sheffield City Region including schools, colleges, independent training providers, FSB, local authority, Chambers of Commerce. One of the key activities has been to produce a local skills report, which is currently in draft form. A skills strategy will result from this, highlighting a number of priorities over the next five years: impact and recovery of Covid-19, apprenticeships and drop-off/decline, Level 3 qualifications and take-up for adults, achievement at Level 2 and below (disappearance of L2 apprenticeships), green skills and jobs.
Jayne asked for feedback relating to apprenticeships to report back to the Skills Advisory Network on questions: (1) how can young people be encouraged to take up apprentices? Particularly 16-18s (2) how can we encourage employers to engage in apprenticeships, from large corporate employers to SMEs (3) what does the local offer need to look like to stimulate growth?
Jaine, Nicola & Summer – CTS Training
CTS is almost full on AEB courses for 19+ but still have a few places on certain subjects. Online qualifications for cleaning, warehousing etc. CTS is recruiting for Functional Skills Maths and English, sign up by the end of May. Setting up an open day in June 23 (referral partners), 24 or 25 for Y11 school leavers, college leavers, NEETs etc. There will be a summer programme for 15-18s – taster / enrichment sessions to engage the learners for August starts.
Grow’s walk and talk programme currently have 7 volunteer mentors available – seeking referrals of any 16-24-year-olds who may be interested in having a mentor. Make a referral – Grow (growuk.org)
Babington has apprenticeships vacancies and collaborations with employers regarding the current openings they are looking to fill via its Short course pathway programs You can contact ricardo.stewart@babington for more information.