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Wages are failing to keep up with the rate of inflation as unemployment rises and the cost of living continues to increase.

The office for national statistics (ONS) has found that regular pay (not including bonuses) has decreased by 3.4% since April; this is the sharpest decline since records began. This is hitting public sector workers even harder as their regular pay is decreasing by 6% a year. The figures show that the rapid increase in inflation provoked by the war in Ukraine and recovery from the economic impact of the pandemic cannot be matched by wages as we find ourselves in a cost of living crisis.

The ONS also found that companies were having issues with recruitment and that although unemployment has risen there are 40,000 more people who are out of work but are actively seeking employment than in April. 

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The department for education (DfE) has invited bids for a tender worth £2.25 million to encourage contractors to work with SMEs to create successful apprenticeship programmes in specific areas in the north.

The DfE has launched a 2.25 million tender to use intermediaries to target SMEs in the north, specifically in areas identified as key targets for development in the government levelling up the white paper. According to government figures, the rate of under 19s beginning apprenticeships has fallen from 24.8% in 2018/19 to 20.3% in 2020/21. The bids must include ideas and outlines about how to engage SMEs who do not currently have apprenticeship programmes and should ideally be focused on young people leaving full-time education. The deadline for bids is the 29th of June.

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According to the most recent estimates from the Labour Force Survey for the period of February to April 2022, employment rates rose during the quarter while rates of unemployment and economic inactivity fell whilst vacancies reached an all-time high.

The employment rate 

The employment rate in the UK increased by 0.2% over the quarter to 75.6%, but it is still below pre-pandemic levels. Long-term unemployment (12+months) has decreased by 15.1% on the year and by 55.5% since 2010. 

Young people (16-24)

Figures revealed a 0.8% increase on the year in the number of young people in FTE(full time education).12.9% of all young people are out of work or economically inactive.


Nominal total wages (before inflation) are up 6.8% on the year to April 2022. This is 4.2% if bonuses are not included. Real total wages (after inflation) have seen an increase of 0.4% on the year. However, excluding bonuses, there has been a 2.2% decrease on the year. 


Vacancies (for Mar-May 2022) are at 1.3 million which is a record high. They are up 1.6% on the quarter and up 63.3% since the beginning of the pandemic(Jan-March 2020).  

Vacancies in ‘accommodation & food services’ continue to be high (174k) as the industry is considered to be the worst affected by the covid-19 pandemic. Other areas with a high number of vacancies are ‘health and social work’ (215k) and ‘wholesale, retail & repair of motor vehicles’ (161k).


See more here.


New research has highlighted that among other factors minimum maths and English requirements, as well as high travel costs and low wages, are acting as barriers to disadvantaged young people having the opportunity to embark on apprenticeship programmes. 

A new study by the National Foundation for Education Research (NFER) has highlighted the inequality of opportunity that young people from disadvantaged communities face in gaining access to apprenticeship programmes. Several factors were identified such as the setting of minimum maths and English requirements for certain levels of apprenticeship. Low wages and travel costs were also highlighted by the foundation as a barrier which will worsen as the cost of living continues to increase. 

The NFER proposes that the government should create financial incentives for apprenticeship providers to take on apprentices without the minimum English and maths requirements. The foundation also raised the idea of the 16-19 bursary fund becoming available to apprentices to assist with travel costs and called for the government to review the current minimum apprenticeship wage.


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Meet our youngest team member: Sophie Fletcher

Meet Sophie Fletcher – Movement to Work’s Administrative Assistant. Sophie joined Movement to Work in December 2021 and is on a placement facilitated by Catch22 and funded by NCS UK Year of Service. We put a few key questions to Sophie so that our network could get to know our youngest hire to date…

Tell us a bit about yourself…

I’m Sophie and I’m 22 years old. After starting with Movement to Work in December, I have learned so much I didn’t know before. This is my second admin job after mainly retail roles and it’s a whole sector I haven’t thought too much about before. The team works really well together and in my first few days here I felt more supported than any other job I’ve had. It’s very clear the people here truly care about what they do and the thousands of young people they are trying to reach. It’s personally motivated me to make a change in not just my community but around the country by joining the team on its charitable mission. Did you know that Movement to Work has helped to create more than 135,000 opportunities for young people since 2013? The amazing work helps young people everywhere and I’m proud to now be a part of that effort!

What barriers were you facing to work before you joined the movement?

Before I joined the Movement, I had been made redundant from my previous job and had to register at the JobCentre. I struggled a lot with anxiety which made it hard for me to find work, as I wanted to work from home and not have a people-facing role but those jobs are hard to find. I also did not have a lot of previous experience in admin which is what I was trying to pursue, so I found that my applications would be ignored because I didn’t have the experience needed. So I found myself in stuck – not being given the opportunity to gain the experience I wanted and needed. Additionally, I didn’t have the best grades in school – I failed maths about 4 times – which immediately lowered my chances of getting a job, especially in admin.

What have you been doing for the Movement since you started?

Since I started working with the Movement, I have been involved in many different areas of work. I have been a part of cross-checking data, I have supported large scale events, I have reviewed brand communications and given feedback. As a young person being exposed to so  many different aspects of a organisation, I now have more skills and knowledge in varied departments – which is great! I have definitely found some aspects hard to understand and challenging, but being a part of a variety of projects has been exciting.

What have you learned since joining?

While I have been here, I have learned more than I could ever list! I have learned what a real team looks like. Job titles don’t really matter here – everyone is always supporting each other and being treated equally, and because of that we always succeed. I have also learned a lot about patience. Patience is something I struggle with (I don’t have a lot of it for myself!) but now I am able to be more patient with myself, and I have seen what it’s like to have patient management – it makes such a huge difference to the working environment and the mindset of the employees. I had never worked in a charity before, nor was it something I had particular interest in as it was a sector totally unexplored for me. I have observed and understood a lot about the differences between the two sectors; not-for-profit charity and for-profit businesses. The values, meaning, mission and the heart that goes into this charity is eye opening and inspiring. I have learned to be more confident and have more belief in my skills and capabilities. Confidence is key, not being afraid to ask questions, not being afraid to ask twice if you didn’t understand it the first time. Having the confidence in yourself to do that and know its okay is such a valuable thing.

What have you enjoyed the most?

What I have found most enjoyable is the inclusiveness, the support, and getting together with the team. The Movement is made up of a small group of people who mostly live far away from each other, so having team meetings throughout the week just to check in with each other and see what work they are doing is great. Being connected with the people you work with has been something new to me and so refreshing. I have also loved being part of the UK Year of Service placement and working with Catch22 – having that external support has been amazing. I had away training days in Swindon with UK Year of Service and it was so much fun. Everyone seemed to be so like-minded and all have the same passion of helping others. We were able to connect with other people and share ideas and experiences that contributed to our growth as individuals but also within the workplace. It has meant so much to see so many organisations sharing the same passion and drive to help young people work.

What advice would you give to a young person who is unemployed right now?

If I were to give advice to someone unemployed, I would tell them to not give up searching for what their passion is. I would tell them that even without great grades and lots of experience that you can still find a team that wants to help you and build your skillset. I think I would advise them to be open minded and take opportunities when they can because it could lead them to find exactly what they were looking for. I think I would also advise them not to be too hard on themselves when they are working, it’s easy to think that not being perfect at what you do is the end of the world when really it just means you’re learning.

What advice would you give to an employer considering setting up a youth employability programme?

I would advise that they take into consideration that not everyone’s learning style is the same. I would advise them to get to know who they are working with and what support they need individually as that makes the employee feel so much more understood and heard. I feel I would also advise them to take advantage of social media by spreading the word about their programmes as these platforms are gold for reaching young people and sharing new opportunities. Above all though, I think the most important thing an employer considering setting up a youth employability programme should do is understand what they want their results to be. What is the aim? What do you want the outcome to be? You must make sure its accessible to everyone and show the young people that this will give them skills and knowledge that could be invaluable to them.

Connect with Sophie on LinkedIn and help grow her network!

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Gavin Phipps

Name Gavin Phipps
Company Department for Work and Pensions
Location Virtual
Last Known Job Role  Executive Officer – Youth Work Coach


Gavin was born and raised on a council estate in south Birmingham.  Coming from a struggling family he found it difficult to do well in school, which was only made worse by the bullying he experienced. Subsequently, Gavin says he “entered the working world with poor grades and no experience. I was left to face those challenges alone with no knowledge of where to start.”

During his placement with the Department for Work and Pensions Gavin says he:

“gained heaps of knowledge on how to demonstrate Civil Service behaviors and competencies. I left the program with much better confidence and experience to enter the Civil Service. The 121 support was something I had never experienced post-school and having that time with someone who knew what they were talking about was pivotal to my ongoing success.”

“Since becoming a MtW ambassador I have had many great experiences such as attending events (Youth summit, CEO Summit and MtW YEA Awards) and getting to partake in amazing conversations about change. Being given a literal stage to stand on and express youth opinions. I got the chance to host round tables and present to large crowds of business leaders.”

Gavin went on to say: 

“I have interacted with leaders and conveyed the voice of young people. I have also assisted in a Digital Marketing 101 hosted by Brolly Marketing. At this event I spoke to young people and gave some career direction and knowledge.”

“At DWP I have been involved with lots of events and meetings to ensure the youth voice is at the heart of DWP MtW delivery. Assisting local and national leaders on shaping the program to make it more interactive as well as helping with the infrastructure of advertisement in local Job centers and communities.”

We asked Gavin about the value this experience would bring to his career:

“In my career, it has added unbelievable opportunities and has opened so many doors for me both in my personal and work life such as working with future leaders network and helping shape policy for young people. Gaining leadership experience to assist me in my role at DWP and above all else, it gives me a reason to stay motivated to come to work and try and change young people’s lives and journeys.”

And what value do you think it brings employers and the Movement?

“The value it adds for employers is it shows they care about their future staff and they are committed to offering sustainable employment and jobs for their future leaders. Movement to Work is a great way to connect with young people and help your staff become more diverse. Having young people in the workplace offers fresh ideas that fit the landscape of the modern world. The unique views and knowledge the youth can contribute will also help employer’s business evolve and innovate.”

“My advice to employers is to be more open-minded and realistic when considering hiring young people. A lot of young people are not going to have a decorated CV with a long list of skills but given the opportunity, they can become capable of learning the required skills. Young people need your investment of time, training and mentoring to allow them to succeed.”

What about young people taking on MtW placements? 

When I am talking to young people about MtW placements in job centres, the main thing I always express to them is the passion that the charity and DWP have for youth employment and by showing them what you could make the opportunity into. I build their confidence in what they are doing and show young people that this could lead to a great career.”

“My advice to a fellow young person who is trying to get into work would be to be consistent with their job search and take the time to research and gain knowledge of their chosen field. A great tip for young people looking for work is to build a network of people who can support you on your journey and utilise local provisions and programs to boost your CV.”

Final thoughts? 

“Young people are the future, who need an opportunity in the present”


The study of 1,500 20- to 35-year-olds, commissioned by the Open University found over a third (36 %) of 20- to 35-year-olds admit they’re desperate to quit their job but can’t afford to, while 38% say they have no hope of getting a promotion or moving sideways to a more interesting position at their current company.

Read this FE News article here


Evidence-based insight and practical recommendations for creating jobs and inclusive workplaces where young people from marginalised backgrounds can thrive.

Young people facing disadvantage have experienced particular unemployment challenges through the pandemic and it is crucial that employers create jobs and workplaces where they can develop and build long-term careers.

This evidence review is published in partnership with @cipd and @youthfuturesfoundation. It builds on the previous review on recruiting disadvantaged young people and gives evidence-based answers these questions:

  • What drives disadvantaged young people to leave or stay in their jobs?
  • What can employers do to retain disadvantaged young people?
  • What can employers do to build inclusive work environments for disadvantaged young people?

Continue reading here

Shared employer engagement models – what works?

Research by ReAct

Employment programmes in the UK are designed to work with individuals to address barriers to work and support people to apply for jobs and transition into sustainable employment, as well as work with employers – both to identify and manage vacancies and to broker the right people into the right jobs.

With this employer facing role often done through dedicated ‘employer engagement teams’, this can mean that multiple employer engagement teams are talking to the same employers in different parts of the country, and that within Contract Package Areas there can be different teams from different programmes trying to engage with the same firms.

Members of the ReAct partnership  – a new, industry-led, active collaboration to support a continuous improvement community in the Restart programme through action research, shared and iterative learning, and the development of applied, evidence-based resources –  have commissioned a project to address two important priorities for the programme:

  • To help to develop a shared employer engagement approach, so that employers with jobs across Contract Package Areas can be assured of a consistent Restart offer regardless of where they are creating jobs; and
  • To help understand and apply the evidence of ‘what works’ in effective employer engagement more generally – so that we can improve the performance of the programme, and the likelihood of participants finding good, sustainable jobs.

To read the full paper please access this link.