When the system doesn't work
We spoke to a group of young people facing disadvantage from across the England this summer about the barriers they face in their journey to work. The following case study helps to illustrate failure in the youth employment system.
Following a period of homelessness, Lauren aged 23 from West Yorkshire, took positive steps to forge a career to live independently. Her story highlights the challenges young people face when the system is geared towards short-term targets and support at the expense of long-term sustainable solutions.
“While studying Beauty Therapy at college part-time, I had to find employment as part of my job seeker’s allowance commitments. The Jobcentre encouraged me to take part in a ‘New Enterprise’ scheme, which offered start-up grants and mentoring for benefits claimants pursuing self-employment. It seemed like a good opportunity to go self-employed, as I thought it offered the support I needed.
“The scheme included one workshop that provided little information about the reality of being self-employed, but emphasised ‘success stories’ of people who received the grant in the past. I was not told that receiving the grant would impact my benefit entitlement or that the Jobcentre cuts entitlements once the grant period comes to an end. The mentor said I would have long-term, one-to-one support after writing and submitting a business plan. When I met my mentor to present my plan, no constructive criticism was given, it felt like a meeting he needed to get through quickly.
“I received no more contact after this apart from automated check-in emails. I felt abandoned. Ultimately, my business failed because it was unscalable, which would have been obvious if the mentors had properly assessed my business plan.
”This experience knocked my confidence and I felt a failure. There was no real help to find the employment I need to provide the financial stability I need to live independently.”