‘Truly shocking’ findings of charity’s report into government’s Youth Obligation programme

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21 May 2019
A Wirral MP has described the findings of research carried out by Centrepoint into the government’s Youth Obligation programme as ‘truly shocking’.

Margaret Greenwood MP was speaking at the launch of a report by Centrepoint – a youth homelessness charity – on the impact of the Youth Obligation on disadvantaged young people.

The Youth Obligation is designed to support young people aged 18 to 21 making a new Universal Credit claim into employment, work-related training or an apprenticeship. All young people claiming Universal Credit in that age group are required to go on the programme.

The programme begins with the Intensive Activity Programme (IAP) which is a series of workshops designed to improve job search and interview skills. Following this, the young person will attend regular work search reviews and receive continued coaching over the six-month period. After this time, if the young person is still unemployed, they should be offered a sector-based work placement or encouraged to take up a traineeship.

The report looked at the experiences of disadvantaged young people and found that one in five young people of those surveyed were unaware that they were even taking part in the Youth Obligation.

It showed that 40% of the young people who took part in the research left the programme as they were unable to continue due to issues including homelessness and mental health problems.

The report also found that the vast majority (92%) of young people who were still on the Youth Obligation at the six-month point were not offered a traineeship, a place on a sector-based work academy or a work placement at the end of the Youth Obligation.

Speaking after the event, Margaret Greenwood MP, who is also Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said:

“The findings of Centrepoint’s research are truly shocking: after six months on the Youth Obligation, only one in 10 of the young people who took part in the research were in work or training.

“These young people are our responsibility and the government should give them a fair chance at gaining employment.

“This report, commissioned by Centrepoint, and carried out by researchers at the University of Warwick, has provided important insights into the shortcomings of the Youth Obligation and how it could be improved. I really do hope that the government takes note.”

Paul Noblet, Head of Public Affairs at Centrepoint, said:

“The Youth Obligation should be an opportunity for young people to gain new skills and grow their confidence but the current system simply isn't working.

“At the moment the Youth Obligation is being treated as the Cinderella of employment schemes. Without greater focus and investment by government the scheme will continue to fail vulnerable young people, including many who find themselves furthest from the workplace.”