£18.7 million to tackle youth unemployment

Aug 11, 2021

As the economy shows signs of recovery, young people remain unfairly affected by the impact of the pandemic.

The latest Universal Credit statistics show that 450,000 16 to 24-year-olds are currently listed as ‘searching for work’ – nearly double the figure in March 2020. Long-term youth worklessness is also at a five year high.  

Youth Futures Foundation was established in December 2019 to improve employment outcomes for young people from marginalised backgrounds. We reacted to the crisis by committing £18.7 million in 19 months to improve the youth employment system. As a result, 141 not-for-profit organisations are supporting over 17,000 children and young people on their journey towards paid work, generating high-quality evidence of what works.

Today, we are announcing our latest round of grant awards. Recipients are chosen based on their ability to design, strengthen and scale up promising interventions and produce useful lessons for the wider youth employment sector through robust evaluation.

Anna Smee, Chief Executive Officer, Youth Futures Foundation said:

“The impact of the pandemic on youth employment is significant. Under-25s have been hardest hit by job losses and disruption to their education. Long-term worklessness is rising. This will have a scarring effect on individuals and the economy. We’re proud to announce our latest round of grant funding and are excited to work with 10 organisations dedicated to helping young people from marginalised backgrounds into work. We are also launching the largest ever range of evaluations of youth employment interventions in this country. This will generate evidence to inform stakeholders on what works and ignite widespread systems change.” 

Grants announced today total £3.86 million and will support organisations across England. This builds on the £12.14 million grant funding committed in 2020, which includes £3.5 million match funding from BBC Children in Need for the Inspiring Futures programme.

Nottingham-based charity Switch Up will use its grant to deliver mentoring, employability support and fitness activity for local young people not in education, employment or training.

Meanwhile, The Ubele Initiative, headquartered in London, will use its grant to deliver an initiative for Black and ethnic minority-led organisations in supporting their young people into employment.

A key criterion for grant awards is their ability to generate high-quality evidence of what works. That’s why we are committing a further £2.7 million to evaluate 16 youth employment interventions, representing the largest ever range of youth employment evaluations in England. A new panel of 18 organisations expert in evaluation will deliver these.

We will commit nearly £10 million to the sector later in 2021. This will fund local collaborative approaches, bringing different services and sectors together to improve young people’s whole journey from education to employment. Another fund will provide long-term support for infrastructure organisations

Evaluation panel members:


  • Behavioural Insights Team
  • Centre for Evidence and Implementation
  • Cordis Bright and The Runnymede Trust
  • Dartington Service Design Lab
  • Institute for Employment Studies
  • IFF Research
  • Ipsos MORI
  • Learning and Work Institute
  • NatCen Social Research
  • National Institute of Economic and Social Research
  • Policy Evaluation and Research Unit at Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Policy Institute at King’s College London
  • RAND Europe
  • Renaisi
  • Social and Economic Research Institute at Sheffield Hallam University
  • SQW and Bryson Purdon Social Research
  • The University of Brighton
  • York Consulting

New grantees:

  • Royal Mencap Society
  • Pentreath Ltd
  • Switch Up
  • Patra
  • Drive Forward Foundation
  • Abbey Access Centre
  • 1625IP
  • The Prince’s Trust
  • The Ubele Initiative


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