Last week, the independent evaluation of Moving on Up – a two-year programme to increase the employment rates of young black men in London – was released. Conducted by The Social Innovation Partnership, the analysis identified both the initiative’s impact so far, and recommendations for the future.
In 2013, the employment rate for young black men in London was just 56%, compared to 81% for young white men. Although that gap has narrowed in the years since, progress has stalled in the last two years.
It’s also clear that the disparity isn’t solely the result of educational differences between the groups. In 2015, young black graduates were more likely to be unemployed than young white graduates 12 months after graduating (9.7% vs 4.6%).
Supporting young black men into employment:
Moving on Up initiative was set up to better understand this issue, tackle it directly with targeted support and generate learning for mainstream employment support providers and funders/commissioners to drive progress.
With funding from Trust for London and City Bridge Trust, working in partnership with BTEG, grants were awarded to Action West London, Elevation Networks, Hackney CVS and partners, London Youth, Making the Leap and Step Ahead, to help support young black men into employment.
Based on BTEG research, the support provided ranged from assistance with recruitment and securing on-the-job experience to group-based support to improve skills and build character.
“You feel more than just a number, you feel like they’re actually dedicating their time to you. That’s one thing that I really cherished about it.” MoU participant
The headline findings for the projects, participants and the programme:
- Based on the data available, 271 young black men are known to be in paid work following their participation in MoU. This equates to a job entry rate of 40-60%
- MoU had the biggest impact on participants’ attitude, confidence and understanding of work, with young black men becoming more motivated, confident and aware of what employers are looking for.
- The thing that MoU participants valued most about the projects was that the staff cared. Participants consistently appreciated that the project staff always gave them their time, showed a genuine interest in their success and wellbeing, and never gave up on them.
- MoU participants also appreciated when the projects were targeted and tailored to young black men. Many interviewees said they felt empowered by people caring about young black men as a group.
“The course did state young black males…I thought that was really cool, to be honest.” MoU participant
- Young black men must deal with additional barriers to those facing other young people trying to find jobs.
“When I was younger, my grandma used to tell me, ‘If you’re black, you have to work twice as hard’” MoU participant
- MoU participants had high aspirations to begin with. This indicates that at least for this group of young black men, it’s not a lack of aspiration that is preventing them securing employment.
- In contrast, social capital is still a key area of disadvantage. This focuses on using personal relationships to find work, and is an area that may need more intense, target support and research.
- Engaging employers is a key challenge. Many of the grantees talked about the difficulties they experienced in terms of building relationships with employers, echoing research from YouGov that there is a need to raise greater awareness amongst employers about the untapped talent available to them.
- The MoU initiative has been able to raise awareness among policymakers, securing engagement with the Department for Work and Pensions, JobCentre Plus, the Greater London Authority (GLA) and others.
Based on these findings, the team provided the following recommendations for future programme delivery, funding and policy:
- Continue to do what works well: providing access to caring, dedicated staff delivering tailored support targeted at specifically at young black men, and offering direct contact with employers were possible.
- Engage employers and the media: helping to boost awareness of this issue, and increase demand and action.
- Engage locally: building networks within local communities, and relationships with Local Authorities and JCPs.
- Recognise disadvantage: for funding and policy making, it’s crucial that the additional disadvantage faced by young black men in the employment market is recognised, and addressed with targeted support.
- Shift the balance from using the stick to providing support: the evidence from MoU suggests that support is a more effective route to helping young black men achieve their potential rather than the official targets and sanctions, etc. often used by policy makers.
- Fund more support organisations, like the projects funded through MoU.
- Refer to delivery organisations from JobCentre Plus: JCPs should systematically refer young black men to local projects such as MoU, to help provide the targeted support they need