DWP: Tackling youth unemployment

Debbie Alder, the People, Capability and Place Group Director General, DWP. 

Movement to Work (MtW) began in 2013 when a group of UK companies set out to tackle youth unemployment by helping employers provide work placements. As an active member of the charity, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) operates tailored youth placements, with many of these leading to employment for a young person. 

DWP offers these placements to young people aged between 16 and 30 years, providing them with skills and confidence to improve their job prospects. Wherever possible, these placements - face to face or virtual - are linked to jobs, including apprenticeships. 

Building Movement to Work placements into the talent pipeline for apprenticeships and entry-level recruitment helps fulfil the Civil Service commitment to represent the communities it serves. Government has a critical role to play in reducing youth unemployment not just as a policymaker but also as an employer. Making them part of its strategic workforce planning helps the Civil Service to invest in our young customers, meet the Government’s goal of reducing youth unemployment and prepare for future change. 

During the pandemic DWP had to pivot from delivering face-to-face placements to designing, testing and delivering a virtual model. So far, this has been very successful with around 60% of young people completing a placement going into work. This includes taking up places directly within the DWP as part of the social mobility apprenticeship programme. 

DWP supports the Government’s agenda for Social Mobility by offering apprenticeship opportunities to those in receipt of benefits who meet the criteria and those in qualifying vulnerable groups. 

Championing social mobility is vital to creating a more diverse and inclusive workforce, where everyone has the chance to go as far as their talent and hard work will take them. We aim to increase social mobility within DWP by attracting talent from all backgrounds, promoting equal opportunities for everyone and ensuring all colleagues are supported to fulfil their potential.

First-hand experience of Movement to Work 

Scott Keegan, Social Mobility Apprentice, DWP. 

Before I started working with Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) Child Maintenance Group (CMG), I undertook a MtW. I had graduated in performing arts (dance) from university in the middle of a pandemic and my employability options became very narrow. This was especially true as a disabled young person with only two prior team leader experience roles within retail and door-to-door fundraising. 

My “lack of experience”, my additional needs through being registered severely sight impaired (blind) and having a guide dog, plus the national lockdown made it very hard to find employment. Employers didn’t understand my ability and didn’t seem to have confidence or experience in employing and supporting a disabled member of staff to sustain a role within their places of work. 

At this time, I was supporting myself independently, living on Universal Credit. I had an immense amount of support from the Work and Health Programme, which helps disabled people find the right employment or training, giving them experience to ultimately find a job. 

My work coach contacted me about an opportunity at DWP, through the Movement to Work programme. This would be work experience tailored around what it takes to be a DWP employee with support to potentially find employment. 

I was sceptical about both my ability and the prospect of them hiring someone with a disability, given my recent experience with employers. 

But I found the Movement to Work programme so much more worthwhile than I expected. I was supported from before the programme started, right through and after it finished. It was immensely useful and didn’t feel like a tick box. It felt real, and that the staff genuinely wanted to do it. 

I didn’t get a position straight after the programme, but I was later contacted by the staff from my programme to see if they could help. Through this, I heard about the social mobility apprenticeship within the Child Maintenance Group (CMG) at DWP and I jumped at the opportunity. 

It was a rough first couple of months because of accessibility issues and the support that needed to be put in place for me to complete my role to the best of my ability. But I have been supported to get the correct assistive package set up. 

Alongside my role, I have become a member of the CMG disability people group and a youth ambassador for the Movement to Work. These are clear interests of mine and the work being done in these groups is close to me, due to the issues I have faced predominately since the commencement of my employment.

See how you can give young people One Million Chances into the world of work.

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