How we support young people into jobs - our ethical approach
We believe that we need to do all we can to support young people who can work into good jobs that will enable them to live independently.
As a youth charity, we have a duty to help young people. We believe we can make the most difference by working in partnership with businesses and government.
We are consistently talking to the government to ensure the voices of young people are heard and that the welfare system supports unemployed young people into work.Concerns are sometimes raised that young people are forced to undertake unpaid work experience in order to continue to receive benefits. We think it is important to be transparent about the way we support young people into work experience and employment.
Particular concerns are sometimes expressed about the government's compulsory work experience scheme, the Help to Work scheme or mandatory work activity schemes; these are often referred to as 'workfare'. The Prince's Trust is not signed up to any of these schemes. Some of our programmes do include short, structured on-the-job training and work experience opportunities with a potential employer. The young people we help constantly tell us that these short, vocational training opportunities are vital to helping them find work. Many believe they have few skills and nothing to add to their CVs when they come to us for support, having faced multiple issues such as leaving school with no qualifications, getting into trouble with the law or growing up in care.
Short, structured work experience placements help them to break the cycle of 'no experience, no job - no job, no experience'. We have worked with the TUC to set some criteria for what high-quality work experience placements should look like, which can be found here. It is also important to understand that all our programmes are about so much more than work experience. We also provide long-term support to unemployed young people, focusing on building soft skills like teamwork, confidence, motivation and communication. We get young people involved in their communities and working in a team; we offer one-to-one mentoring; and we help them get the qualifications they need to find work. We find that it is a combination of all these things that helps to get unemployed young people ready for and into work.
If young people are claiming welfare benefits (such as Job Seekers' Allowance) when they join our programmes they will continue to receive payments while they are with us. We have designed our programmes so that young people won't be out of pocket. The companies that provide work experience and on-the-job training do not usually pay the young people because young people are worried that there would be delays in reinstating benefits after a placement - a gap in income that they cannot afford.
The businesses that support our programmes invest in us because they want to make a difference for disadvantaged young people the furthest from the jobs market. They devote considerable resource to training and supporting young people on our programmes, often providing a dedicated staff member to act as a 'buddy' for every participant as well as providing industry-specific training. It is simply not the case that the businesses we partner with use our programmes as a source of free labour.
Benefits system and conditionality
We know that some people are concerned that young people might be forced to join our programmes or face losing their benefits. Job centres are moving towards stricter conditionality, meaning that more young people will be asked to commit to certain requirements in order to be eligible for benefits.
We do not force young people to join our programmes. It is important to us that they are willing to be there. A large number of young people approach us proactively, often because friends or family have recommended us to them. The majority of our programmes are over-subscribed, because young people know they are an effective way of moving closer to and securing a job.
We do not support benefit sanctions against young people who choose not to join one of our programmes. Thousands of the young people we work with are claiming benefits and therefore must agree their jobseeking activities with job centre advisers. We are aware that in some cases, this could mean a link is made between a young person continuing to attend a programme with us and their benefit claim. If we refused to help any young person engaged with a job centre, we would be cutting off support from a large proportion of vulnerable young people who need it. We would be turning away thousands of young people each year who would miss out on the positive outcomes our programmes and courses are proven to deliver. We therefore continue to work with young people who are engaged with job centres.
We understand that these are sensitive issues. If you have any questions you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.