#Chances4Children: Young peer researchers to identify youth employment barriers

Neil Puffett
Monday, June 14, 2021

Up to 30 formerly unemployed young people will be trained as peer researchers, undertaking research into issues that affect their age group as part of a new initiative.

Young people will be free to launch their own research projects. Picture: Adobe Stock
Young people will be free to launch their own research projects. Picture: Adobe Stock

The project, launched jointly by The Young Foundation, Youth Futures Foundation and The Mohn Westlake Foundation, will see the young people undertake research in their local communities, exploring perceptions about the strengths and weaknesses of their areas.

It is being funded through the Kickstart Scheme, a £2bn fund set up by government to create high quality six-month job placements for young people, targeting 16- to 24-year-olds currently receiving Universal Credit and deemed to be at risk of long-term unemployment.

Once the cohort have developed their research skills further, they will have freedom to research issues that are important to them and create a research project of their own. Through the research field work undertaken, the project will document the lived experiences of up to a further 450 young people.

The organisations said the new project comes at a time when “young people are hardest hit by the impact of the pandemic on the economy”. Recent job market data shows a growing trend of long-term youth worklessness. Unemployment for 18- to 24-year-olds is at a five year high, and 42 per cent have been unemployed for over six months compared with 30 per cent a year ago.

Helen Goulden, chief executive of The Young Foundation, said: “This is a unique opportunity to support young people to build solid employment skills and networks, at the same time as tapping into their desire to create positive social change in their communities.

“We know that the social research sector is nowhere near as diverse as it should be - and this scheme has opened up an entirely new channel to bring more diverse talent into the sector. My hope is that this is the start of something much bigger - and I want to publicly thank our first cohort Kickstart Researchers for bringing so much energy and dynamism to The Young Foundation.”

Anna Smee, chief executive of Youth Futures Foundation, said: “Our collaboration weaves together youth-led research; insights into the lived experiences of young people at a time of socio-economic change and paid work experience in social research. We’re committed to identifying what works and delighted to be working with young people from diverse backgrounds to generate the evidence. I look forward to following the young researchers’ journey and building on our understanding of how to make the youth employment system work better for them.”

Last week the Department for Work and Pensions announced the launch of 110 youth hubs to support young people in finding employment.

The hubs, which are based in every JobCentre Plus district in the UK – including across all London boroughs – are partnered with charities, local authorities and colleges to offer advice and support on training and employment to young people.

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