Molly’s reflections on the West Midlands Pilot

With a heavy heart my secondment to Movement to Work, leading our West Midlands Pilot alongside Rory Allbutt, has drawn to a close. The past six months have been a brilliant experience and it has been fantastic to be part of a collective Movement to help to change the lives of hundreds of young people in the West Midlands. In collaboration with West Midlands Combined Authority, DWP and our dedicated members across Movement to Work, we have made over 1,000 placements available for young people across 2019/20.

As I reflect on the first half of 2019 and Movement to Work looks to the next target region, here are some of my reflections on the lessons learned from working regionally:

  • We are greater than the sum of our parts.
  • Collaboration is critical to increasing our impact at the local level and our success in the West Midlands has only been made possible through the shared mission of local government, central government, employers, youth outreach organisations and training providers to improve the life chances of young people in the region.
  • The fantastic launch event hosted by Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, at the Prince’s Trust in Birmingham was a brilliant way to celebrate employers commitments and recruit new members.
  • Our new youth-focussed working group convening every fortnight is helping to translate this commitment into action. In this group, WMCA, DWP (including work coach and progression coach representatives), youth outreach and programme managers from a variety of employers come together and we think this will prove key in tackling localised challenges to close the gap between supply and demand for opportunities.
  • A local lens brings new insight.
  • A data-driven approach has helped to understand the specific challenges facing young people in the region and has shaped our offering to young people. For example, we have seen that the majority of the 14,000 unemployed young people in the region are cycling into and out of employment, so we have taken steps to create more sustainable positive outcomes.
  • We have also worked with employers to unlock regional barriers such as transport to open up new opportunities for young people.
  • Mentors are key to transforming individual experience.
  • We can galvanise wraparound support for young people through local interventions and new forms of mentors, from progression coaches to Youth Promise Plus and hands-on support for employers running work placements in the West Midlands.
  • Progression coaches are a carefully selected group of 10 JobCentre Plus work coaches in 5 wards facing the most significant youth employment challenges. Progression coaches have a reduced case load (40% of an average work coach case load), enabling them to provide more intensive support throughout a young person’s journey to employment. The results of this new model have been  remarkable, with 96% of progression coach customers staying in work when they find it.
  • Youth Promise Plus is a collaboration across Birmingham and Solihull Councils, WMCA, Prince’s Trust, University Hospital Birmingham and the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner provides holistic personal support for tailored mentoring and specialist coaching and pathway training. This programme also helps employers to shape work environments suited to young people’s needs to ensure sustainable outcomes.
  • Innovation and commitment across our network is key. Our members have helped to increase the scale and diversify the opportunities available bringing Small & Medium Enterprises into the network, from M&S’s Plan A commitment to social impact across its supply chain to BT’s original approach to integrating SMEs and other employers through work experience and careers fairs.

Thanks to all who have been part of this incredible journey – your efforts have been instrumental in amplifying our impact on the lives of young people in the West Midlands!


Keep in touch with Molly via LinkedIn.