Adrian Tallon: This year has impacted the opportunities and aspirations of our nation’s young people

After such an ‘unprecedented’ year that has impacted the opportunities and aspirations of our nation’s young people, the roadmap out of lockdown was welcome news…with the end of the restrictions hopefully now in sight.

The good news of a ‘way out’ has been offset by some stark data that has been released recently showing that young people are still faring worst, and facing a slow recovery.  With this in mind, it has been great to see the appetite of our network of Club Community Organisations (CCOs) to take this challenge on by offering Kickstart and Traineeship opportunities – key elements of the Government’s ‘Plan For Jobs’ – along with the CCOs offer of study programmes, apprenticeships and Higher Education.

This month’s report by Youth Futures Foundation found that young people have been particularly hard hit by a slowdown in hiring since last year.  The rollout of the Kickstart Scheme, which funds job placements for 16-24 year olds for 6 months, will help combat this issue and EFL Trust are working with over 70 Football Club Community Organisations to offer 650 funded placements across England and Wales through the Scheme.  Earlier this month, we ran workshops with our network of Kickstart employers, and it was great to hear the wide range of roles that are being planned for young people across the Football Clubs and the Community Organisations, including within the media and marketing teams, academy operations, community coaching, grounds keeping, youth work, and much more. Our first Kickstart placements are up and running and already we are hearing about how well-supported the young people feel, and how excited they are for the six months ahead.

To underline our commitment to supporting youth employment, the EFL Trust are proud to have signed the Good Youth Employment Charter; a pledge that we will follow the principles of good youth employment, including providing opportunities and developing talent, and we urge all of our partners on the Kickstart Scheme to do the same. A special mention to Sheffield Wednesday Community Programme for being the first to do so…

While there are some great opportunities for young people closer to the job market, it’s vital that those who were not engaged in education or employment before the pandemic hit are not left further behind due to the growth in youth unemployment numbers. Last week we were delighted to announce our Youth Futures Foundation funded ‘EFL Trust – Training Ground’ programme, which will support these young people to overcome the barriers they are facing, through a programme developing their physical activity, mental health awareness and resilience, and building the skills that they will ultimately need in order to move into good quality, sustained employment or further education.

February’s Labour Market Statistics briefing note from IES identified growth in employment in the Health and Care sector, and the EFL Trust have been working closely with NHS Employers and a number of individual NHS Trusts to create employability programmes focussed towards roles where there will be vacancies, preparing young people to work in the sector. Although in its infancy, this partnership work has the potential to be really powerful, with the EFL Trust and its partner Club Community Organisation engaging with stakeholders across the community to recruit participants on to an employability programme with jobs in mind. With programme delivery launching in March and April, I’m looking forward to seeing some impactful provision and powerful individual success stories.

While the challenges are clear to see, we are grateful to partner organisations that are supporting our plans over the coming months, including DWP and Youth Futures Foundation and most of all to the delivery staff within Education & Employability departments at our CCOs who are going to be delivering these programmes at as high a quality as ever.

We believe, more than ever, that our network have a key role to play in the ‘roadmap’ back to normal – remember that? – and tackling the youth unemployment challenge head-on is first on our list.