APPG Meeting Minutes February

APPG Meeting – Houses of Parliament

Topic: Youth Obligation

Speaker: Laura Smethurst, Department of Work and Pensions

24th February 2016



Chloe Smith MP – Chair

Michael Tomlinson MP – Vice Chair

Baroness Deborah Stedman-Scott – Vice Chair

Amanda Milling MP

Neil Gray MP

Melanie Onn MP

Laura Smethurst, Department of Work and Pensions

Laura-Jane Rawlings, Youth Employment UK

Shona Lomas, Youth Employment UK

Paul Johnson, Youth Employment UK

Rhiannon Wilson, Youth Employment UK

Harvey Morton, Youth Ambassador at Youth Employment UK

Ruth Carter, OCR

Louise Rochford, City of Westminster College

Ruth O’Sullivan, Centrepoint

Sarah Safo, Centrepoint/London Ambitions

Hadi Khanafer, Centrepoint

Lin Proctor, Future Academies

Yolande Burgess, London Ambitions

Stephanie Sowersby, Vinspired

Johnathan Morris, Vinspired

Frank Funnel, The Brokerage City Link

Richard Bridley, The Princes Trust

Kate Mahoney, YMCA Training

Paul Warner, Aelp

Leo Watson, City Year

Victor Ovenseli, City Year

Ornella Nsio, Talent Match London



Welcome and Introductions:

Chloe Smith welcoming attendance. Introducing DWP and youth Obligation.


All attendees are asked to bring a young person or an employer.


Events / Opportunities in the month ahead: On Agenda



Monthly Youth Employment Statistics: Laura Smethurst giving statistics.


Continuing to make progress with Youth Unemployment. Month on Month falls which is good news.

At the moment 86% of 16 – 24 in Employment or full time education.  We have the lowest proportion of age group that are unemployed. 5.7%


The claimant count is unemployment for JSA and universal claimant 172,000 18 – 24 year olds, lowest since the 1970’s.


Declining number of young people who have been out of work for a year or more.  Down by 91K.


We know that in itself is not enough, we are aware of people who are at risk and we have more to do to stop people being unemployed – 1 million Young people who are NEET we want them to move into full time work or education where appropriate.



Laura Smethurst – Department for Work and Pensions:


Key ways in which we are tackling – ensure Young People have opportunities to earn or learn for a career and reduce risk of young people slipping through the net.


Barriers that young people face – employers recognise this too.


Can be like using a different language. Employers do not recognise skills in young people, not related just to qualifications but also to experience and terminology.


Neil Gray MP asks what is being done to help this:

Laura Smethurst: promoting work experience and travel to work, increasing confidence and recognising how they can sell their experience.


Introducing a three-week active programme working with young people and employers on advertising roles and working on CVs.


More so academic qualifications.


When people are in employment there are weaknesses in some of the core skills within young people.


Melanie Onn MP: How old are they? Are employers looking at school work experience or actual experience within a workplace?


Laura Smethurst: There are a lot of work experience schemes, looking to maintain flexible work experience offer.

WE is not limited to specific types of scheme but broadly tailor and hopefully give a 6-month work place rather than 2 – 8 weeks. How long is appropriate?


Laura-Jane Rawlings explains that DWP are leading with the WE CAN programme.


Concerns from Melanie Onn MP about the quality of the work experience


Laura Smethurst – We are looking at the types of skills and making sure that people will gain relevant experience to the work experience. Collect evidence from the experience, looking at records of what Work Experience looks like, collecting data from that now. Looking at what a tick box might look like – Fair Train, is no good if someone goes to we and gains nothing from it, learning skills like time keeping as this is important to employers.


Some employers and young people may not come away with the same experience, depends on the mentor. The organisations need to be selected carefully so they have something to offer the young people.


Melanie Onn MP: talking about giving a talk within organisations to state what is expected from them regarding employer attitudes and mentoring the young people.


Laura Smethurst: states that employers all – not just large but also medium sized businesses, will be persuaded.


Chloe Smith MP: Frank – worried about debate and WE 15 year olds, more important to get average kids to be proactive, had a group of 40 people going out on WE cohorts. Thinks it is important for the young people to getting involved in part time jobs, voluntary.


Neil Gray MP: Similar experience, met local employer, skills shortage in you is outrageous, struggling to hire and skills gap is not problem it is recognition, how do we bridge this issue to help employers find the right work ready young people.


Laura Smethurst: no answer yet but is top of list and needs to be worked on, we will be asking employers this.


Neil Gray MP: Been to schools, gets the idea that he would be scared to be leaving school and looking for work a:


Laura Smethurst: has listed some of the skills and some of the issues.  /wants to avoid people going on training course after training course – hands out slides. Wants to talk about the design of the Youth Obligation


Has been designed to delivered in universal credit – has great advantages as it allows us to build it in to the regime in supporting not just unemployed but those working in low earnings. April 2017 all young will be eligible for credit, will be assessed if they are able to work or do more in work.


When they first start to make a clam for credit and prior to work search, register immediately to universal job match and upload CV so profile is available.


At diagnostic interview consultant will look at personal circumstances, skills, knowledge and experience and where they want to go in their job search and help people understand the range of opportunities. This will also be used to inform the

Claimant to see if they are changing


Laura-Jane Rawlings: Will they come to the Job Centre?


Laura Smethurst: Day one is day after interview, will be going on a workshop, the work coaches will be working with young people. 71 hours over 3 week’s mixture of 1-2-1 and workshops and learning from each other. Looks at some of the basic skills, work coaches will ask “what websites are you looking at” Most only look at 1 or 2 websites. CV and letters to employers. They take this all away and come to another workshop two weeks later. Has already seen big change in motivation in the young people who have been going through the trial. S being trialled in a number of areas.


In the first three weeks of the claim the aim is to build on their learning, will receive additional support and talk about any more barriers that have not been uncovered yet, including budget support, basic skills training, encourage to go on sector based skills training, classroom and work based training – employers who sign up to this will guarantee an interview – not a job.


WE will have a high number of people going through this, being monitored for 21 weeks to gather information and data, will be encouraged to apply for apprenticeships. Work coaches will have access to the support fund, if claimants need clothing for interviews and travelling.


For those who are in work all of the above will be available on a voluntary basis, will have a commitment that you have to demonstrate how you intend to increase work hours and roles with employment, stop gaps in employment history, what methods of engagement with employers. Will have follow up interviews to see what progress is being made. In work progression plans.


One of the things we know people leave benefits very quickly, universal credits means we can improve business recycling.


Chloe Smith: can we track this per person?

Laura Smethurst: The JSA regime tracks and we have links with this, we have links with job centre Universal


Neil Gray MP: How does it work if someone wants to increase the work?


Laura Smethurst: One of things we are doing for those on UC for 6 months, if you are not in work or applied for an apprenticeship or volunteered – we will refer them to a work experience placement and a consultant. WE do not want us putting everyone on a work experience placement, how can we design this to be more progressive as employers will not allow this.


Stephanie Sowersby: Problem trying to get reference from JS from those who have been doing unpaid work experience placements.


Leo Watson: Recruit 18 – 25 year olds as volunteers and do one year helping deprived areas, all points today are about people lacking skills, our core is to put young people at the heart of everything. A number of organisation work on the module homelessness, conservation etc. Nearly 1 Million young people have taken this up, have no legal recognition or recognised for being in this year of volunteering, NI contributions for signing on, gives skills and working hours, careers development, interview skills, CV skills but still not recognised. Employment rate over 6 years is 97% have gone from volunteering to full time employment.


Richard Bridley: sounds like comprehensive and sensible might be a challenge, some of the activities might be better later on like writing CVS as Confidence building is more important and the soft skills to learn upfront otherwise they might not come back.



Ornella Nsio: Talent Match agrees as the main issues are confidence, single parents, circumstantial.


Laura Smethurst: diagnostic interview had someone who is homeless, needed special support.


Laura-Jane Rawlings: really urges people to view the report that Talent Match have produced.


Laura Smethurst: speaks about those people who are falling though the net.


Louise Rochford: Finding a challenge at the moment trying to find suitable work placements for those who have learning difficulties.


Are they going to be specifically trained to deliver this programme?


Laura Smethurst: the work coaches – yes they are.


Chloe Smith MP Closes – any further questions can be directed through Laura-Jane Rawlings.


Laura Smethurst: if you have severe complex needs you would not fit into Universal Credit  – you would be signposted to another form of the Youth Obligation, Youth Obligation is for people that have been diagnosed as able to work.


Chloe Smith MP: glad at the level of questions. Wants to finish to state how we run the APPG, we need help to get more people, find your MP put in postcode, office or home. Wants more MP’s at meeting, we are here to encourage MPs to attend so they can hear our voice within the sector. If there are any problems then Chloe will give them a prompt.


Youth Employment UK have a formal letter and we have the database of the local MPs and if anyone else wants to push then let Laura-Jane Rawlings know.


Thank you to everyone for attending and to Laura-Jane Rawlings.



Closed meeting.





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