Young adults find Lancashire’s new youth employment hubs ‘less intimidating’ than job centers

That was the message from a Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) official who said the county’s “youth centres” have proven to be a less intimidating environment than traditional employment centres.

Shane Byrne, a DWP Partnership Manager in the North West, told a recent Lancashire County Council External Review Committee meeting that the 16-24 year olds the hubs are designed to help are the group most at risk of having their prospects damaged during economic crises like the one triggered by Covid.

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Young people preferred to engage with supported employment at Lancashire’s new youth centers rather than traditional employment centers

“In previous recessions … they struggled to enter the world of work for the first time, they struggled to gain work experience [and] they had difficulty accessing employment, education and training [because of] the fact that they were locked in rooms and left behind,” Mr Byrne said.

Eight youth centers have been set up across the county in the last year, including one in Preston (at Preston College), Chorley (in the city’s youth area) and Leyland (at the Civic Centre).

The meeting heard that their locations at the heart of local communities – and their less formal settings – aim to put young people at ease and also to help forge partnerships with other organizations that are best placed to help them in the world of work. , including local employers participating in the government’s Kickstart scheme to provide six-month employment for under-24s.

Mr Byrne said the aim of the hubs was to equip young adults with the skills they need to take advantage of the opportunities available to them.

“We wanted it to be different… something dynamic. This formal environment [of a job centre] is very mandatory [and] very closed – it is [saying]: ‘You will do this, this and that’. But we were very aware of the feedback…that young people don’t always find it inclusive, they don’t find it warm and welcoming – they’re quite intimidated by it.

“So these youth centers have been absolutely phenomenal in changing the perception of young people and the way they engage with us,” Mr Byrne added.

The committee was informed that young people deemed to be in need are offered tailor-made support to make them as attractive as possible to potential employers – in particular by creating a CV and training them in “soft skills” such as communication, especially with those who are older than them.

Mr Byrne also told the meeting that an ‘absolute fortune’ had been spent to ensure that 16-24 year olds who did not have one received internet access and digital kit – such as laptops or tablets – needed to help them apply. for jobs and access online support. This money comes from the DWP’s flexible support fund, which is earmarked for these purposes.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service asked the department exactly how much was spent on enabling digital access for young people in Lancashire, but was told the figure would have to be researched via a freedom of information request.

Committee member Nicki Hennessy welcomed the new approach offered by county youth centers, but questioned whether employers were willing to hire the youngest new hires just because “it’s cheaper to hire a 16-year-old than a 24-year-old”.

Accrington (Town Hall): Monday to Friday, 9:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Burnley (Calico offices, Croft Street): Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4.30pm

Chorley (Youth Zone): Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Lancaster & Morecambe (Lancaster and Morecambe College): Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Leyland (Civic Center): Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Preston (Preston College): Monday to Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Nelson (Scotland Road): Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Rawtenstall (Futures Park, Bacup): Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

About Jerry Richter

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