Our Chairman, Seyi Obakin OBE, reflects on our impact in 2022.
With that in mind, Youth Futures achieved a huge amount in 2022. We focused on changing the system so that young people facing disadvantage are supported into good quality jobs. We launched our first place-based approach to systems change, commissioned research into what works to employ young people from marginalised backgrounds, and ramped up our face-to-face engagement with stakeholders.
In early 2022, as we emerged from the pandemic, there were encouraging signs of economic growth, with employers struggling to fill the surge in vacancies. Despite this, the recovery was not felt equally. Young people facing disadvantages still encountered the biggest challenges, including an increase in mental ill health and long-term unemployment.
This was worsened by the cost-of-living crisis, which deepened existing disparities for the most vulnerable. Unemployment and NEET (not in employment, education or training) levels have both increased, while the number of young people in employment has remained lower than pre-pandemic levels.
It looks likely that the economy will be stagnant in 2023 and that means we face a pivotal time for the youth labour market. Yet, our core mission of supporting young people into good jobs remains critical, perhaps even more so. Thus, our strategic focus will be on using evidence to mend a fragmented system, influencing how employment and training services are delivered and ramping up activity to improve employer recruitment and retention of young people. Thus our strategic focus will be on using evidence to mend a fragmented system, influencing how employment and training services are delivered and ramping up activity to improve employer recruitment and retention of young people.
2023 is also our fourth full year of operation so the nature of our activities will change as the first wave of grants and evaluations end or evolve, and a new set of programmes is developed that builds on the last three years’ insights. Working with our partners and stakeholders, we shall keep driving long-term systemic change so that young people from marginalised backgrounds achieve their full potential.
Highlights from our 2022 Impact Report include:
- We gained official What Works Centre status, becoming the tenth member of the government’s What Works Network
- We launched our flagship national place-based programme, Connected Futures, with seven areas receiving phase 1 funding
- We commissioned a rapid evidence review, data analysis and a survey of over 2,200 young people from ethnic minority backgrounds
- We launched a new youth participation initiative with the Department for Work & Pensions and the Department for Education called ‘Your Voice, Your Say, Your Future’, in partnership with Youth Employment UK.
- We highlighted a potential £38bn dividend to the economy for improving NEET outcomes by co-producing a report with PwC on the Youth Employment Index
- Being awarded £20m additional Dormant Assets funding (taking our total to £110m)