2020 saw a rise in young people claiming Universal Credit. To tackle this, the Government’s Plan for Jobs aims to deliver a comprehensive package of support for young people. The DWP is providing this in collaboration with the Department for Education, schools, and other partners.

Tammy Fevrier is the Deputy Director of the Youth and Skills Department at the Department for Work and Pensions. Tammy joined the Department as a casual administrative assistant in Holloway Jobcentre Plus in 2002, following graduate and postgraduate study in immunology and biochemistry.

She has spent most of her career in the DWP in a range of roles including as Assistant Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Head of the Family Policy Division, Head of Non-Pensions Arm’s Length Bodies (with responsibility for the Health and Safety Executive and Money and Pensions Service), Head of European Social Fund and Contracted Provision Policy and Head of Transformation and Insights in the Department’s business transformation function.

Tammy is an experienced policy professional with experience across the whole policy life cycle. She returned to her social policy ‘home’ in 2020 taking on the role of Deputy Director of the newly formed Youth and Skills division where she is leading the implementation of the DWP Youth Offer and work to improve the alignment between employment and skills in the department’s labour market offer.

In this session from the Youth Employability 2021 conference, Tammy discussed the current state of youth employment, policy changes and opportunities for young people, and details of the government’s KickStart employment scheme.

Video Transcript

Thank you so much, Sam, and thank you very much for inviting me to be here. It’s like trepidation when I was in the voice of government, but I think, obviously in terms of actually the scene setting, it’ll be really, hopefully helpful to you, to hear what we’ve been doing, but equally, I think one of the things I want to get across, and I think I was reflecting with the team earlier, is that actually, government can’t do this alone.

So actually, kind of the work that we are doing is very much around setting a national framework around what we’re doing to address the challenge around youth employment, as Sam has rightly set out, but actually government can’t do this alone. So I think that’s probably the underlying method and everything that I was setting out here in terms of the DWP used offer and the various elements that have been put in place through your plan for jobs last summer, that are kind of really now rolling out in earnest.

Certainly as restrictions are easing, but also kind of recognizing that actually the vital role of the wider community of stakeholder organisations, sort of those groups and yourselves who have been so involved in this agenda for so long, in terms of actually helping us address what we all recognize is a key challenge for government, for the society as a whole, and one that we really need to get on top of. And I believe we are, but certainly, there’s a lot of stride down needed as we move forward.

So if we get in to the meat of the slide pack, and I think George is controlling my slides for me here. So we’ll just sort of start out, I think what we’re trying to do in this sort of first slide, if we’re able to move forward, George, is very much around just setting out the position. And I think Sam is clearly right in terms of actually the positioning in the round. We know that the sort of the labor market statistics that were published yesterday, unemployment rates for young people aged 18 to 24 was 12.8%. That’s an increase in 2.3 percentage points from December to February, and employment is down. I think just about 60% at the moment. That’s a decrease of just under four percentage points in that same period.

Again, when we look at this through the lens of universal credit, we see there’s been a rise in a number of young people claiming universal credit in 2020. And again, that’s what we clearly would have anticipated with the kind of wider pandemic induced restrictions and lockdowns. And certainly those sectors that Sam has rightly pointed out, actually sort of having to effectively close down through the bulk of 2020, so effectively what this slide is setting out, so compared to the equivalent month in 2019, starts to universal credit for those age 18 to 24, 144,000 higher in April increasing to 191,000 higher in May 2020.

Now monthly starts to universal credit remained higher in 2020 and 2019 to expect, although that difference did decline over the summer. And again, you can see that this is almost commensurate with what we saw in the wider environment, where obviously, we had a sort of an easing of restrictions over the summer, and some of the various initiatives that you all have heard of, eat out to help out, et cetera.

And again, sort of mirroring as Sam has inflected that kind of disproportionate sort of representation of young people in those sectors that have been so badly affected by the restrictions that have had to be sort of necessary just to kind of help us address the health pandemic, but clearly looking further forward, actually dealing with the economic consequences, is very much a priority for government in the round. And that was something that was at the heart of the plan for jobs that was published last summer too.

So we’ll move forward onto the next slide. I feel like I’m doing my Chris Whitty here, but effectively, when we talk about that plan for jobs now, very much, this was obviously the government’s approach to delivering that comprehensive package of support for all people who require that help, but particularly honing in on the need to support young people in particular.

As Sam has rightly pointed out, we are all too well aware of the sort of the scarring effect of unemployment on all people, particularly, for young people as they’re setting out or have just to begun their journey into sort of the world of work really. So we’ve absolutely recognized that this would be a challenge that we needed to address, and be on the front foot in doing so. And we’ve worked hard to work collaboratively with the usual suspects as you might expect. So department of education, a really key partner for us through the work that we’re doing, support young people, but equally schools and other partners and stakeholder organisations, and working with Sam youth employment group, and others, has been really key to us designing this and thinking about, I guess, that next iteration on from the sort of the previous incarnation of sort of youth support that we had within DWP.

Effectively, what this means is that whatever their employment and employability needs, young people, sort of at the heart of our ambition here is actually young people can find the right support, education or training, that’ll ultimately lead to sustained employment and ideally, career progression for them throughout their lives. Now, as I say, DWP is leading cross government collaboration to identify and promote opportunities. And particularly with the focus on those sectors where we sort of, in terms of our engagement across government and with employers and others, have sort of identified there’ll be an immediate or growing demand for jobs, including for young people.

So some of those sectors, thinking about manufacturing, construction, adult, or social care, some of the digital sort of jobs, and I obviously heard lots about things like the green jobs initiatives. So again, understanding where that demand is, and really making sure that our support offer is honed towards actually kind of supporting people in that direction where that’s appropriate.

Now, obviously there will be differentiation at regional and local level, in terms of those types of roles and certainly where those roles are likely to become available. But really, as I say, this is about the national framework around those growing sectors and actually kind of then be able to sort of tweak and hone those to really kind of lean into that local demand and setting that local layer market demand. I often say to my guys that in effect, we should be the best supply demand outfit in the world, really, when you think about it, in terms of all the connections we have through government with employers. Certainly as I say, at local national regional level, and in terms of actually kind of what people on our books actually are able to do, and certainly where they might need to get extra support, to be able to take on those opportunities in the future.

And that very much aligns with not just the plan for jobs, but also the plan for growth. So I think where you hear the government rhetoric around building back better, then very much it’s ensuring that our young people are at the heart of that, and ensuring that sort of global Britain and sort of UK PLC is able to really make use of all our people, particularly young people as really those assets, for want of a not particularly friendly phrase, but actually kind of our people are our assets really, and actually making sure that actually they’re part of that journey that we all need to be on to build Britain back, and really kind of look to the future.

Now, our specific interventions aim at young people, including the DWP Youth Offer and Kickstart, which I’ll talk to in a bit more detail later. As I say, I’ve been designed to move young people towards meaningful and sustained employment opportunities. And I think within that, what I guess is sort of hidden behind that really is actually kind of a recognition that young people are not a monolith. As Sam has rightly pointed out, there are certain groups of young people who have found it challenging in the labor market, and actually are finding it increasingly so, as we kind of move out of sort of the health restrictions, and actually kind of are looking further forward.

So I think for us, ensuring that personalised support is available, but also being alive and open to where we need to do more to support young people with particular needs, I think is really at the heart of what we’re trying to deliver through the work that we’re doing in government. So moving forward onto the next slide.

So this is a slightly busy slide, but I think it just shows that… What we’re trying to show here is really the kind of, as it says, opportunity, support, provision around certainly talking about the DWP new software, which is one element of that plan for jobs, but there are certainly other elements within that, that support young people, and key to success here is matching young people with the right opportunities for them, and their particular needs.

I often talk again to my guys, I’m sure Sam heard me say it many times as well, but actually, sort of right person, right opportunity, right time, really, in terms of thinking about the interventions that work. So when we think about supporting job search, obviously the DWP Youth Offer is at the centre of that, but we also, sort of are able to lean into a number of other elements here.

So you’d have heard about things like Job Finding Support and Job Entry Targeted Support that are available in the program sense, obviously the work and health program for people with disabilities and other needs. And obviously Restart is sort of just about to sort launching in earnest, when we think about the kind of the support for longer term, unemployed as well. And all of that is I guess, underpinned to a degree by the Flexible Support Fund that’s available within Job Centre+, just to kind of effectively top up those programs and to really hone into that local level need in [inaudible 00:10:01].

In terms of DWP led opportunities, Kickstart scheme obviously is an integral one there, that sort of specifically targeted only at young people, but also elements like mentoring circles. So obviously, we have sort of big employers actually kind of actively supporting young people on their sort of CV, work search, other opportunities, self-employment support as well, recognising that actually being employed is not necessarily the root that will be most beneficial for many.

Actually when we think about the untapped in many areas in innovation amongst our young people, then actually self employment is really something that we want to recognise as part of that wider suite of support and work experience. So actually recognising, as Sam has mentioned, we’ve got lots of people who either have never been employed or are just leaving college or school, for whom actually kind of getting a taste of what the world of work looks like, actually will be beneficial in terms of actually kind of equipping them with the skills that they need to be able to enter that sort of full employment, to the best of their ability.

Alongside this, we look at the links provision, I guess, with DFE. So we’ve got things like the European Social Fund Provision, obviously that’s still ongoing. I know we’re kind of moving forward on that journey towards the UK Share Prosperity Fund, and obviously The Community Renewal Fund is open at the moment. It’s for bids, but obviously ESF is still available. I used to work sort of very closely actually sort of, not so long ago, but in terms of actually that sort of bespoke local support, that really is honing in on the needs of sort of those people with particular challenges and particular barriers to employment, movement to work as well, and employer-led initiative, and obviously, our sector based work academy. So that’s our sort of training sort of combined with that sort of job interview as well.

So a particular success, and certainly over the course of the last year, I think we’re up to sort of 63,000 starts on the sector based work academies program, and even more ambitious targets for this year, where we’re looking for 80,000 starts really on that. And we think that’s a really important approach, particularly when you’re thinking about or giving people a safe environment to almost think about how their skills can transfer to other sectors.

So again, I’ve joined a construction SWAP, sort of virtual SWAP, not so long ago. And actually, there are people there who’d been doing sort of admin based jobs for some time, and actually, who would never have construction, but actually kind of had, I think, sort of quite heartening testimony actually, from the particular gentleman I was speaking to on that, who actually kind of… This was a kind of a new pathway for him and actually kind of, in terms of actually the sort of commitment and motivation, that he was able to be provided again, in that sort of safe sort of short term approach to sort of tasting really, sort of what that new sector would look like for him.

And obviously, we work very in England in particular, there’s sort of a range of DFE led opportunities. So you’ve heard lots in terms of the further education and skills white paper that was sort of published a little while back, but certainly lots in there around sort was trainee-ships, thinking about apprenticeships, basic skills training, obviously, which remains integral to sort of the wider offer, certainly from the DWP perspective, but also things like say T Levels, so the technical education and vocational roots, that are particularly important, as we move forward.

And again, all in the spirit of building back better. As you mentioned in there, some of the really close working that we are doing with groups like the National Career Service to make sure that I guess when our jobs enter plus work, coaches are engaging with all people, but young people in particular. They’re able to tap into that expert support where people need it to identify those skills and career routes that could be most beneficial for them as they move forward.

So moving on, so a bit more of a flavor of the DWP Youth Offer, and I make no apology for kind of setting this out repeatedly, at the kind of forums I’m invited to, but just to kind of make sure that we sort of think about this as, I guess, the three elements really, across the Youth Offer in the round. So the first of which is the Youth Employment Program. So that’s, as it says here, 13 weeks of structured work, coach support. So that’s a dedicated work coach working with that young person over the course of 13 weeks.

And through that, young people were referred to the most appropriate work related support to suit their needs. And again, as I mentioned before, that right person, right provision, right time. So Kickstart, SWAPs, apprenticeships, trainee-ships, and all of the other elements that we sort of discussed in the previous slide, very much part of that.

And as you perhaps have heard, but obviously with restrictions easing, and jobs in plus opening, we’ve been able to return to normal opening hours of face to face engagement, from week before last, so the 12th of April. And part of that face to face engagement, young people, we’ve made a determined effort to ensure that young people are prioritised, as we look to reopen. So that means that actually that engagement that has been happening in a slightly more virtual sense previously, actually to be enhanced through the opening of the job centres, and making sure our work coaches are engaging with our young people, building those relationships in earnest, to enable them to move forward on their journeys.

Youth hubs are an exciting element for me, certainly, and I’m sure for many of you, when we think about actually the opportunity to have on a national level, co-located, co-delivered, sort of joined up local service delivery, across our national network, sort of DWP.

We’ve worked really hard here with a range of local partners, which has enabled us to really kind of put in place, effectively what’s a drop in service, that enables sort of those young people outside of benefit to be able to access the support as well as those young people who are part of universal credit intensive work search group, for whom actually engagement outside of the Job Centre+ environment, and with the range of services that actually are sort of put in place in relation to the local need and local demand, to actually support them on their journey, in a more holistic way.

And I know kind of, it’s often a word that’s kind of thrown around, by sort of government people in particular, but actually, we know this is what works. We’re thinking about the sort of previous incarnations of joined up local service delivery, we think about the family intervention projects, troubled families initiatives, and other areas. We know this is what works.

It’s not just about the primary, dealing with the employment needs, but actually it’s also the range of other needs. I think Sam lent into this in her opening that actually having skills partners, for example, or organisations dealing with the mental health needs of young people really important in terms of actually enabling young people to be positioned to take up those opportunities and recognising that some of those will be out [inaudible 00:17:18] of just the pure employment service lens as well.

Now we’ve got, I think about 100 youth hubs plans to open in a physical sense. What we’ve had to do, obviously in the course of the pandemic response is row back a little bit in that in terms of actually those restrictions, not necessarily allowing us to have the physical hub sites open, but we’ll be looking to transition over from the digital, to the physical hubs in [inaudible 00:17:51]. Now, I know there’s one physical hub that’s already open and many more planned, and those are really an integral part of that offer, and alongside this youth employability coaches.

We already have our 150 youth employability coaches in place and a few more as well I’ve been told that are providing support nationally to young people with significant complex needs and barriers. I think part of that sort of approach is really, it’s not just the six weeks of the support to enable people to get into employment and actually a real profound approach to dealing with those needs that people have, whatever they might be, and I think we’ve given our youth employability coaches the permission really to engage with young people in a more rounded way than perhaps they have been able to previously, but also, I think as part of this, a recognition that actually getting the job is at the end of the journey.

So six weeks of in-work support, that’s available for young people once that employment’s been secured, because we recognize that as with any transition or big life transition, then actually being able to give that ongoing support we think is really important and that’s why that’s a central integral part of that particular role.

Okay. Moving forward. You will all have heard about the Kickstart scheme, and obviously this is a really big high-profile initiative, so I’m providing fully funded job placements for young people aged 16 to 24 on universal credit and at risk of long term unemployment. Now we’re really looking to make that offer as attractive as possible to employers, so the funding includes 100% of the relevant national minimum wage or the national living wage, depending on the age of the person, for 25 hours a week for six months, with all the various elements around national insurance and pension contributions also included in the funding.

What we’re finding already, through the Kickstart scheme, is that it’s bringing a wider suite of employers into this employment support landscape. Absolutely beneficial for young people to be able to have access to supported employment through this particular program, but equally getting a range of employers and employment opportunities that obviously represent the growing needs, economic needs of the country and around.

So Kickstart scheme, I think, as you’ll see on there, lots and lots of information available about that on the various government websites, and I would encourage you, I’m sure you’ve all seen that, but I certainly encourage you to have a look if you haven’t to already, and certainly the numbers are looking ramp up in that space as well as the months and weeks moving forward.

Okay. Moving on. As I mentioned at the beginning, government alone can’t do everything here, and so, I think, this sounds really important for me, so we really welcome developing our relationships with local government, other stakeholders in the voluntary and community sector and others who want to be part of the work we’re doing, and in particular part of our youth hub approach.

We’re already engaging with around 450 partners, and we’re always keen to increase this. As I mentioned before, it’s about having access to a broad spectrum of local opportunities to help young people enter the labour market and stay in the labour market. So we’re showing local opportunities and again, working together, we can promote work related provision, support, opportunities and jobs to our young, young people as soon as they’re available, we can tap into that claimant pool to match with local opportunities.

So again, thinking about that supply demand, it’s not just about a labor market supply demand, but it’s also around the wider support’s available too. Job Centre+ has a unique role really in local and regional infrastructure and in terms of sign posting to the right support at the right time and that’s a really integral part of our delivery methodology here and certainly working with our DWP employer partnership teams, again.

As I mentioned previously, the Flexible Support Fund use in all sorts of interesting and varied ways, but certainly helping to develop our youth hubs with the local partners through community grants. Now, obviously there’s an application process that’s attached to that, but certainly there is funding available also help set up those youth hubs and we are really looking at driving through and really leading into the sustainability of those hubs as sort of time and months move forward.

Obviously we meet regularly with local government to deliver Kickstart with over 130,000 jobs created across the country, but certainly our local government relationship are broader than just the Kickstart program, certainly in terms of thinking about our youth offer. When I think about the other side of my house on skills as well, making sure that I guess those local partnerships that are integral to actually delivering support that is commensurate with local need, we recognise a role of local government and really keen to continue those positive working relationships there.

Okay. Moving forward. As Sam mentioned, I think ensuring diversity and inclusion in supporting young people is also really key to us. I think what we twice set out here is that, as I mentioned before, young people are not a monolith but actually for particular groups of young people, there are some really sort of bespoke activities underway. So what this slide attempts to set out is a bit of a dipstick into some of those particular areas where we’re leaning in.

I mentioned already the role of youth employability coaches and working with young people with significant complex needs and barriers across the board. So six months tailored support, and obviously that run on as well as young people move into employment, as we hope they will. For young people who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, our job centres work in partnership with local authorities and other partners, again, to ensure people who are homeless are able to get the support they need.

We recognise this is a hugely challenging landscape, and I know… I was speaking to our minister just yesterday, actually, who was, as you might not be surprised to learn, I think government and standing in government departments actually can sometimes act as internal lobby groups in and of themselves and I think one of the points that I think I’ve been in discussion with our minister about is actually the importance of safe and secure accommodation in enabling all people, particularly young people, to actually be able to lean into their employment journey in earnest.

So actually recognising that actually there is a mutual benefit really, not just for the safety and security of that young person, but also of their ability to engage in what’s needed in terms of actually them moving forward in their entering into work and their career progression. Ethnic minority young people, so black and minority ethnics young people, we recognise that actually it’s one of the areas of a particular concern I think for us at the moment, that black and minority ethnic employment gap is increasing and particularly for young people within this cohort.

One of the areas that we’ve been focused on is around mentoring circles, so involving, I mentioned before, national employers offering specialised support to unemployed ethnic minority payments, and that’s been expanded more broadly, and there are a number of other areas where we’re working with members of the youth employment group in particular, to understand what more we need to do to support young people. Black and minority I think young people in this area.

Care leavers, particular passion of mine. I know young people leaving care and actually recognise that government has a really important role as corporate parents in supporting young people who are leaving care. We signed that care leave covenant in October 2018 and actually even before that, I know my teams and I worked really closely with DFE to develop the first cross government care leaver strategy, because again, we recognise that actually it’s so important to make sure that we are supporting young people leaving care through certainly simplifying, improving their interaction with the benefit system, but also recognising the unique needs of young people leaving in care as they’re beginning their journey into adulthood and obviously the employment factors within that too.

Ex-offenders, we’ve got 158 prison work coaches supporting people in this category during their sentence and after release and we’ve made sure that prison leaves are able to join new and existing employment programs that includes Kickstart, Restart and all the other provision that you saw and disabled young people too. So I think that again, another area, a bit like for black and minority ethnic claimants, but actually recognising that the employment gap for disabled young people is also increasing.

One of the areas we’re focusing on here is around access to work, and again, it’s often talked about as a bit of the unsung hero in this space, but actually merits of access to work, sorry to support young, disabled people, both providing funding for the inward support needs of young people, participating in work experience, supporting internships, traineeships as well, to just ensure that actually accessibility is not a barrier for those young people in terms of actually moving forward on their work journey.

Moving forward. Another buzzword for the next slide. Job help and employer help. Government often has a tendency to hide its light under a bushel, but actually I think one of the important areas that we’re really focusing on is around two sites here, job help, and employer help. So really publicising our offer, having coherent ask of employers across government to provide support for young people.

And those two sites were launched in direct response to the pandemic. Job help is looking to offer job search advice, showcasing recruiting sectors, signposting young peoples to vacancies to help them successfully find work and really encouraging to visit the advice, the sign posting hub, the careers advice, job opportunities, signposting to initiatives like Kickstart and we are trying to think about a multi-prong, multi-channel approach here, so often those buzzword aren’t there but actually thinking about, as I say, not hiding that light under a bushel, using the social media platforms, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube to reach younger audiences.

And again, say, their plan for jobs or information for employers as well published on gov.uk, and again, that’s leaning into what I was describing earlier, particularly around the opportunities initiatives such as Kickstart have to involve a much wider range of employers into this broader employment support marketplace as well and the sop up and the help the government can give as an encouragement for employers to recruit young people in particular.

Just to summarise, I think what we’ve described here is a kind of… It might feel quite dry. I think it is quite difficult to get that living and breathing experience of actually what the offer is trying to entail, but as I’ve often mentioned, it’s around that national framework around which we can hang the various ranges of initiatives approaches that are most beneficial, certainly at local level and certainly working with local partners who understand the needs of young people in those particular areas or regions.

That’s something that I think we’re really continually leaning into, particularly as I say, the restrictions are eased. Actually, those physical youth hubs are starting to open in earnest and certainly as we’re bringing young people back into the fold. Obviously, there will be an element of challenge to that, I think, in terms of actually making sure that young people are engaging with us as you will expect.

Obviously, there are expectations around that engagement that are beginning to move forward, but I think my bottom line really is actually [inaudible 00:30:38], and as I began around working in partnership and actually understanding what is working. I think good practice across the network and actually how we can share that more broadly, I think is key for us, including those areas where we might need to modify or vary our offer to recognise those needs certainly as the economy starts to come back, and we hope that certainly with the vaccination approach and the gentle approach to unlocking really, and the sectors start to come back, that obviously we can see a bounce back, but actually recognising that actually we do so in a way that enables us and enables the broader suites are possible of young people to be able to access those opportunities as we move forward again, through that lens of building that better.

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More and more young people are claiming universal credit. To tackle this the Government’s Plan for Jobs is delivering a comprehensive package of support for young people, to help them into work. We heard from Tammy Fevrier, from the Department of Work and Pensions who discuss the current state of youth employment and opportunities to maximize youth employability.

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