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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!

Sophie will be sharing her blog starting on our next newsletter. Not registered? Subscribe now.

THE SKILLS IMPERATIVE 2035: ESSENTIAL SKILLS FOR TOMORROW’S WORKFORCE.

The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) has published a report looking at the skills people will need for the future world of work.

The current world of work is in a state of transformation due to technological advancements, environmental changes, demographic shifts, and the impact of Covid-19. Calls are intensifying for workforce reskilling and a re-engineering of education and training to meet the demands of the future.

Current policy in England focuses on technical, digital and green economy skills, underpinned by strong literacy and numeracy and a knowledge-rich school curriculum. There is currently limited understanding of the combination of essential employment skills which will be needed, their relative importance, and how to develop them.

To fill this evidence gap, the NFER research study, ‘the Skills Imperative 2035: Essential skills for tomorrow’s workforce’ looks at:

  • Which essential employment skills will be most needed in 2035;
  • What will their likely supply be and where the gaps will be;
  • Which occupations and workers are most at risk of not having these skills;
  • Which skills will affected workers need to develop to transition into new employment opportunities, and
  • The role of educators and employers in helping to prepare young people and workers for the future labour market.

There seems little doubt that the labour market will change and evolve over time.  The report suggests that some sectors will develop while others will decline: –

  • Growing sectors are predicted to be health, social & personal care roles; education; professional services; sales/business development; creative, digital & design; green economy; information & communication; and natural & applied sciences.
  • Declining sectors are predicted to be administrative/secretarial; manufacturing/production; and retail/cashier work. Agricultural and business administration/finance sectors are also widely expected to decline.

The report also found that in addition to literacy & numeracy and technical / digital skills, that transferable and interpersonal skills will become ever more important in the face of technology. These are categorised as: –

  1. Analytical/creative;
  2. Interpersonal;
  3. Self-management; and
  4. Emotional intelligence skills.

While self-management skills and social and emotional strengths are generally found to be better predictors of income at the age 25 than cognitive skills, well-developed essential employment skills have also been linked to a higher level of academic performance. However, there is little doubt that there will be significant challenges in the forthcoming years for both educational institutes, training providers and employers, who will all need to respond quickly to address future need.

The full report can be accessed here.

THE YOUTH EMPLOYMENT INDEX.

According to recently published research by PwC and the Youth Futures Foundation (YFF), a significant proportion of young people risk being stranded in low-wage work, or outside education or employment, in the coming decades, unless the UK creates a more inclusive and resilient labour market.

The Youth Employment Index research is a collaboration between PwC and YFF which measures, benchmarks and monitors youth employment and the access of young populations to education and training across OECD countries.

The UK labour market has performed in the middle-of-the-pack for many years in terms of its opportunities for young people, with many of the most vulnerable remaining inactive for long periods of time,  The latest published research shows that the UK has improved its ranking to 18th amongst other OECD countries, but has moved up from 20th overall.

Existing trends in the UK labour market were exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, widening existing inequalities affecting young people, especially from minority groups.  At the start of the pandemic, youth unemployment increased by over four percentage points more than the rest of the workforce, with young people being over-represented in shut-down sectors who were more likely to already be employed in temporary jobs and zero hours contracts anyway.

The research recommends a wide range of policy areas to support the development of adaptable, resilient skills, empowering young people to find productive, rewarding work and promote their wellbeing.

The report has developed 13 separate policy proposals – including the development of existing policy and novel policy suggestions. These are policies are categorised under four key areas to help build a comprehensive youth policy strategy, namely: –

  1. Developing skills through investing in better vocational training, improving skills matching, encouraging a more flexible education system and increasing emphasis on place-based policies;
  2. Supporting people by providing proper career guidance and mentorship, promoting well-being in young people, and addressing inequality;
  3. Supporting incomes through improving social safety nets for young people, using targeted fiscal policy during economic downturns and supporting those negatively impacted by technological innovation; and
  4. Shaping labour demand by investing in high productivity sectors, improving legal and regulatory protections for all workers and developing appropriate measures of job quality.

To read the full PwC / YFF research report please access this link.

TWO-THIRDS OF UK WORKERS FIND MAKING FRIENDS REMOTELY CHALLENGING.

Employers have been urged to do more to encourage social connections between remote staff after a survey revealed that nearly two thirds of Brits find it difficult to make work friends while working from home.

A poll of 2,500 UK workers, conducted by OC Tanner as part of its Global Culture Report, found 63% of people said it was more challenging forming new friendships with colleagues while working remotely.

Over half of those polled (58%) also admitted that the office was where most of their new friendships are formed, while 71% of UK workers said they valued colleague interactions.

The research also found that 71% of employees found it easier to make personal connections with people from other generations when in the office, while the same percentage felt they are more able to make friendships with people of different cultures in an office environment.

The findings come as employers were urged to focus on improving flexible working, employee wellbeing and other areas of workplace culture in order to attract talent in an increasingly competitive market.

The People Management article can be found here, while the full Global Culture Report can be found via this link.

APRIL 2022 EMPLOYMENT LAW CHANGES.

According to Personnel Today, organisations should ensure that they are on top of the raft of employment law developments that will apply in April 2022.

There are 6 changes that need to be considered, which are: –

  • Planned rises in national minimum wage rates;
  • Gender pay gap reporting deadlines;
  • Increases to statutory redundancy pay;
  • Increases to statutory family-related pay and sick pay;
  • The end of HMRC’s IR35 enforcement “grace period”, and
  • Changes to right to work checks.

Employers are encouraged to make sure that they are aware of changes to legislation so that they are in a position to act appropriately.

Full details of the Personnel Today News Article can be accessed via this link.

IS THE EXPANSION OF HIGHER EDUCATION AT AN END?

According to the Policy Exchange, it increasingly looks like the end of the era of expansion for Britain’s higher education sector. For the past 30 years parents and young people have seen higher education as the only route to safety and success, as a growing number of mainstream jobs became graduate only.  But is this about to change?

The Government recently announced new measures to raise minimum standards in the education sector which means that, in order to avoid sanctions for high numbers of students not continuing or completing courses and not going on to decent roles, colleges will have to show that 60% of students end up in professional jobs.

This is part of a set of measures designed to raise standards and end the “bums on seats” reflex of some institutions, which are sometimes better at marketing their courses than producing well educated students.

Universities are clearly producing too many students for too few graduate jobs, notwithstanding the rise and rise of the graduate only job. Around one third of graduates are not in graduate employment 5 to 10 years after graduating, and the graduate income premium has declined to almost nothing for less prestigious universities.

It is argued that this academic-generalist model has led to two sets of disgruntled people, the people who didn’t go to university at all who feel like they are losing out when all the best jobs are reserved for graduates and the bottom part of the graduate class who are not getting the well paid professional jobs they expected. This problem is not going away because the number of top jobs is inherently limited and there has been a marked slow-down even in the broader category of professional and managerial jobs.

To read the full Policy Exchange comment please click here.

UK POVERTY 2022: THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING POVERTY IN THE UK.

It is known that poverty at any stage in life can lead to negative impacts.  It is therefore critical to scrutinise the data thoroughly to work out who is worst affected, determine how trends are changing over time and see what future prospects are.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has recently published a report looking at poverty at the start of 2022, nearly two years after the start of global pandemic. To an extent the full picture of UK poverty is unclear as official poverty data covering the pandemic period is not yet available, but many sources make it clear that while some groups have been well supported and face better prospects as we enter 2022, others face deep and persistent poverty. In some ways the position is much better than might be expected given the economic and social shock the country has been through.

While gross domestic product (GDP) is projected to recover to its pre-pandemic level by the start of 2022 and the rise in unemployment has been much smaller than the dire initial forecasts thanks largely to furlough, there have been changes to the taper rate to Universal Credit support for in-work families alongside the re-linking of housing support welfare to housing costs following a freeze in rates over several years.

Additionally, the £20 uplift to Universal Credit has now been withdrawn, while those on ‘legacy’ benefits (excluding Working Tax Credit) pre-dating Universal Credit received no increased support at all.

Families receiving these types of benefits have very high levels of poverty, with 43% of households in receipt of Universal Credit being food insecure. This has meant the basic rate of ‘out of work’ benefits is at its lowest for 30 years after adjusting for inflation, while in comparison, earnings have risen by more than a quarter over the same period.

Low-income households have less of a buffer against rising costs or any unexpected expenses, given they are less likely than other households to have savings.  In terms of how all this plays out for future poverty levels, it seems clear that out-of-work families will fare worse than low-income families in work. There is already a large existing gap in the latest data, with only 6% of working-age adults in families where all adults are in full-time work being in poverty compared with almost half of working-age adults in workless families.

Furthermore, within inflation predicted to increase sharply in 2022 there seems little prospect of reversing these trends as child poverty rose by 4% from 2012/13 to almost a third of children by 2019/20, while and rising pensioner poverty rose by 5% to almost a fifth of pensioners by 2019/20.

To see the summary findings of Joseph Rowntree Foundation report please click here.  The full report can also be accessed via this link: Full JRTF Report.

 

REACHING YES – ADDRESSING THE YOUTH EMPLOYMENT AND SKILLING CHALLENGE.

PwC, Unicef and Generation Unlimited have been working together to look at the challenges facing young people trying to start their careers and find employment.

Today, the world has 1.3bn young people who are trying to start out, find their way and make a life. But the harsh reality is that millions of these young people will find it hard to make a life for themselves because they will struggle to find work.

While the youth population has exploded by 30% in the last 20 years or so, the number in the labour force has actually decreased by approximately 12%. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it even tougher for young people to find a job.

When a young person wants to work but lacks the opportunity to do so, that is a tragedy both for the individual and for society. And one of the reasons that youth in every region struggle to find work is a mismatch between the skills they can offer and the skills employers need.

This is why UNICEF and PwC have partnered with Generation Unlimited to develop a practical road map to help young people understand what skills employers want, how to acquire those skills and get the certifications to prove it.  This is called ‘reaching YES’ (youth employment and skilling).

The aim is to work in partnerships with government, businesses, multilateral organisations and young people themselves to achieve this. Helping young people acquire the skills they need to succeed is not just an economic or business imperative; it is a social imperative too and helps young people to have a better quality, more rewarding career.

The work has global aspirations and is not just limited to the UK so to see the full report click here.

YOUTH EMPLOYMENT IN THE UK 2021 : CIPD RESEARCH.

A new report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) provides an insight into the needs of young people, both in education and as they start out in their careers.  The report also shows employers how to help young people understand their employment options, how to obtain the skills they need to enter the workplace and how to provide advice to ensure career aspirations are met.

The report is based on primary research with a survey of over 2,000 people aged 18 to 30.

Key findings of the UK report are: –

  • The qualifications young people held are seen as more necessary to get jobs, than do jobs.
  • Over half of those who attended university would have considered an apprenticeship as an alternative route, but only 1% said they received help at school to apply for one.
  • Only a fifth of young people rated the careers guidance given at school or college as high quality and said that not enough time was spent helping them understand career pathways or options.
  • Only half of young people surveyed received a face-to-face careers guidance interview at school.
  • Whilst most young people took part in work experience at school or college, over a quarter rated it as low quality.
  • Paid work during education is seen as beneficial for developing employability skills.
  • Only just over half of people surveyed are satisfied with their main job, with the lowest rates of satisfaction being in wholesale and retail and the highest being in education and healthcare.
  • Those that said their career progression had failed to meet their expectations reported poor quality line management and lack of effective training programmes as the main factors holding them back.
  • Over two-fifths of young people believe the pandemic has harmed their long-term career prospects.

Key recommendations: –

The CIPD is calling for:

  • The Government to increase funding for careers advice, so that every young person is guaranteed at least one face-to-face interview with a qualified career guidance professional by the age of 16.
  • Careers advice in schools and colleges to give equal focus to vocational and academic routes into employment.
  • Employers to collaborate with local schools and colleges to ensure young people understand and are equipped with the skills that businesses need, so they are ready to join the workforce when they leave education.
  • More senior professionals from all sectors to volunteer for the Enterprise Advisers programme in England, run by The Careers & Enterprise Company.  It matches individuals with a school to help them develop a careers advice strategy and connect them with local employers.

To see the full report and additional commentary from the CIPD, click here.