In April 2018, our Youth Panel identified Jobcentre Plus provision as their area of focus as part of their project, 'CONNECT: Learn, Share, Improve' in partnership with Youth Employment UK. Members identified issues surrounding the accessibility of information at Jobcentre Plus and the communication methods employed by Work Coaches. The aims of this project are to:
- Support Jobcentre Plus to improve their services by deepening their understanding of young people’s needs
- Support disengaged young people to find out more about Jobcentre Plus and its services
The Youth Panel created a survey that was completed by 31 young people and 38 Jobcentre Plus Work Coaches, and conducted six interviews with Work Coaches, and eight interviews with young people.
What did we learn?
Four key themes arose from this research:
Information about services
The main issue expressed by young people was that it was really hard to for them know what the Jobcentre provided or how they can be of help. Echoing the views from the research, the Youth Panel were unclear on what was available to them at their local Jobcentre and what they could expect. It was felt that information about the Jobcentre is difficult to access without having to visit a branch.
The Youth Panel's recommendations included: provision of more youth-friendly communications and media to advertise and promote services, an easy-to-use online webpage with all information about local Jobcentre services in one place (with a jargon buster), advertising services outside of Jobcentres, including on social media, through leaflets and online; Jobcentre staff going into schools to support with careers advice and information, CV building etc.; clearer messages about the role of Work Coaches and the expectations of both Work Coaches and young people; promoting case studies where the Jobcentre have helped jobseekers in positive ways in order to share the story of how the Jobcentre helps
Enabling young people to feedback on services
The Youth Panel suggested some positive steps that could be taken to make the process more comfortable for both sides. The Youth Panel's recommendations included: having a feedback process enabling young people to make suggestions and evaluate the service they people are receiving; creating a Youth Panel or Youth Advisory Board that meets with staff and managers regularly to talk about challenges; regular reviews of training processes and quality checks to consider feedback from people using the service
Specialist training for Jobcentre Plus staff
Being able to share their experiences, challenges, hopes and aspirations is an important part of young people ‘buying in’ to the process and achieving their desired outcome. Young people are facing many challenges and the world is changing rapidly for them. Therefore, creating a better understanding of what they face and training staff in dealing with this is an important consideration. The Youth Panel's recommendations included: enabling Work Coaches to get quick, expert advice guides to refresh training before meeting their clients; training for Work Coaches in mental health, outreach, communication, interpersonal skills, and body language training; regular awareness sessions on disabilities, mental health and issues such as dyslexia
The Jobcentre environment
The Jobcentre can be an intimidating place for young people. The Youth Panel's recommendations included: holding sessions exclusively aimed at young people; providing more time for Work Coaches to understand what each young person needs to better achieve their goals; creating private areas to hold conversations that young people can ask to use to share information or if they feel anxious; holding workshops, discussions, events and activities that promote engagement with young people; Work Coaches going out into other environments such as libraries; staff, including security, being more friendly and aware of young people needing additional support to feel comfortable.
Watch our short animation detailing our findings below, or view our infographic by clicking here.
The project’s second stage will see these findings feed into the creation of a pilot project. We are currently discussing a possible activity at Oldham Jobcentre Plus. The outcome of which will be detailed in a final evaluation. Follow @gmtalentmatch to keep up to date.
On 11 October 2018, Greater Manchester Talent Match are hosting our 'Still Hidden' conference. One workshop will be surrounding the CONNECT: Share, Learn, Improve project. Click here to purchase a ticket.