Project Flourish: Enhancing Social Mobility for Disadvantaged Youth through Employability and Support
I feel both honoured and privileged to be leading on ‘Project Flourish’ which is a collaboration between Hays (Hays is the largest specialist recruitment and workforce solutions business in the UK) and EveryYouth. The project is dedicated to improving the social mobility of some of the most disadvantaged young people in the UK, through an employability programme which helps them gain employment and, just as importantly, develop and ‘flourish’ once in their new role.
In order to develop this pro-bono service to selected Hays clients, it was essential to understand the challenges and opportunities, along with the level of resource and support already available. So, back in September 2022 I set off on a mission to meet as many stakeholders as possible, starting with some of the EveryYouth partner charities and then with specific employers and organisations who have undertaken similar ventures. This provided fantastic insight and led to full site tours with two of the partner charities at St Basils and Roundabout, for which I am very grateful and further meetings with job coaches, benefits experts and training providers.
However, it was when I met some of the young people supported by the partner charities, that the excellent support the charities provide really came to life, but it also highlighted some of the main barriers the young people face in gaining and sustaining meaningful employment.
Support to find the right job
Firstly, without the right role and level of support it soon became apparent that they would not stay in employment for long. Therefore, an employer criterion will help select the organisations for our initial pilots where there will be the right environment and best chance of success. This will ensure that values are aligned, and the right level of understanding, resource, flexibility, and commitment are provided. Once established, a three-way agreement between the employer, partner charity and Hays will be in place to each provide value added support and to ensure that a holistic approach is taken towards the young person.
Support managing personal finance
Secondly, in the current employment market, with a record level of job vacancies and skill shortages, but with employment levels disproportionately having a negative impact on the younger generations, I had not anticipated the benefit system as being a blocker to young people and especially those transitioning from supported accommodation to independent living!
In most cases, I can now prove that it is beneficial for young people on benefits to undertake meaningful fulltime work. However, to many, this is a real barrier, irrespective of perception versus reality. Therefore, we are factoring this into our approach towards this programme, as we will provide greater understanding to employers whilst helping the young people break down this barrier in a way that provides greater confidence in managing their finances as they transition into meaningful full-time work at a pace and in a manner that they are comfortable with. Watch this space, more information on this coming soon!
These are just some of the challenges and common themes, and I recognise that many young people who have experienced homelessness are recovering from traumatic experiences and therefore, challenges can be very personal and complex. However, I am determined for us to help overcome these and I am very excited about the support and opportunities this programme will provide as they transition towards independent living. I believe, in time, we will have a profound effect and a positive long-term impact on many young people’s lives.
I am looking forward to working in collaboration with EveryYouth and the fantastic partner charities across the UK and I will update you on progress as we strive towards our goal.
Jamie Houlders, Project Lead – Hays