Working well? Young people’s experiences of Jobcentre services

Our research explores the role of Jobcentre Plus in the lives of young jobseekers. 

In particular, it looks at whether the Government’s flagship Youth Obligation scheme addresses the specific needs of young job-seekers by providing appropriate, personalised, employment-focused support that enables young people to enter secure, quality employment, using London as a case study.

JCP

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A Young Women’s Trust survey showed that young women using Jobcentre Plus have over the last three years consistently ranked their experiences as humiliating, stressful and stated that they felt ashamed to go to the jobcentre.

Given the extent to which early work experiences shape a young person’s life, intervention that helps young people overcome barriers to employment and mitigate any disadvantage is key. 

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We propose the following recommendations:

Work Coaches should…

  • Conduct regular reviews of vulnerability markers to record young people’s situation and make sure the support given is reflective of young people’s circumstances.
  • Develop a holistic understanding of jobseekers’ situations and aspirations. Support should be appropriate and personalised accordingly.
  • Provide private and non-judgemental spaces to facilitate disclosure of vulnerability.

Youth Obligation Managers should…

  • Increase the efficacy of referral process between Jobcentre Plus and partner organisations.
  • Monitor the numbers and outcomes of those referred through the Youth Obligation.
  • Ensure information is shared widely with internal staff and external service providers about the Youth Obligation policy and its aims.

Jobcentre Plus services should...

  • Measure Work Coaches’ success using longer term outcome indicators such as improved employment and education outcomes, or reduction of housing and homelessness costs, rather than target numbers in jobs.
  • Provide fair support and motivation for jobseekers across all boroughs. 
  • Develop an initial assessment self-referral tool for welfare claimants to disclose disadvantage, circumstances or markers that might affect their benefit claims and support.

Government should…

  • As a matter of urgency, pause the roll out of Universal Credit until a fully functional system is in place. 
  • Develop automatic rollover to Universal Credit once a final system is in place. 
  • Ensure Department for Work and Pensions communicate closely with local councils and commissioners to ensure that clients in boroughs under the same Jobcentre Plus jurisdiction have access to similar services. 

Additionally,

  • Parliament’s Work and Pensions Committee should conduct a full review of the Youth Obligation policy and its effectiveness.

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