8 October 2015

YMCA St Paul’s Group supports YMCA England, who is calling for an overhaul of job centres after new research uncovered evidence of a ‘dehumanising and demoralising’ service for young people that is damaging their confidence and, in some cases, even setting back their long-term employment prospects. 

YMCAs across the country are speaking out on the back of YMCA England’s ‘Safety Net or Springboard?’ report, which is released today.

This research highlights the huge divide that exists between the help young people need to get them into long-term employment and what job centres are currently offering.

As a result, YMCA England is now calling on job centres to be tasked with a new service obligation to match the Youth Obligation that is being placed on young people from April 2017.

This would see job centres providing each young person with a single work coach specifically trained to support their needs, the option to participate in relevant training for more than 16 hours a week without losing benefits and the option to access in-work support once they have found employment, amongst other recommendations.

Feel ‘dehumanised and demoralised’

Richard James, CEO of YMCA London  South West, said: “It is clear from the views expressed in this research that job centres are failing to fulfil one of their two primarily roles, namely to provide young people with effective public employment services.

“Rather than help them to find work, young people feel dehumanised and demoralised by the service they are being offered by job centres, with little or no consideration given to their circumstances and aspirations.

“The changes young people feel are needed to help them into employment are not elaborate and expensive back-to-work schemes, but rather getting back to a situation where they are treated like people not numbers.

What should be done?

‘Safety Net or Springboard?’ has been put together by YMCA England following a series of focus groups with young people across the country.

Other recommendations to improve job centre support include:

  • A more detailed initial assessment exploring a young person’s personal circumstances and aspirations, which is then used to inform their claimant commitment.
  • More comprehensive regular sign-on sessions with their work coach.
  • Regular opportunities to meet with their work coach at informal drop-in sessions.
  • Opportunities to have relevant training and work experience incorporated within their claimant commitment.
  • The option to discuss how available funding is utilised to enable them to participate in training

Read more about the report on YMCA England’s website.