MtW Head of Outreach shares her take on emerging themes to support youth employment

Since 2018, Movement to Work Head of Outreach Debs Gordon has supported employers with the delivery of their work placement programmes, in partnership with training providers and youth outreach organisations. Previously a Director of Resourcing at Centrica, Debs has a deep understanding of the strategic design and operation of the recruitment lifecycle and in this blog, she shares her recent reflections including: What are some of the emerging themes to support employees? Which skills are in demand?  What is happening to social mobility?


Virtual learning and virtual work experience are now part of the employability landscape and, most likely, here to stay. Advantages to employers include larger cohorts and the ability to reach many people who are challenged geographically, physically or need to learn flexibly. I anticipate the future will be a combination of virtual and face-to-face employability learning dependent upon the skill set, e.g. digital, IT and some customer service may continue to operate remotely whereas other skill sets requiring presence at a site or office are currently and will continue to utilise a blended approach of virtual and physical presence rather than solely face-to-face.

Alongside the above advantages of increased reach and flexibility is the disadvantage of those being left further behind due to a lack of connectivity and digital skills awareness. For those granted a device and access, support cannot end there. Many need guidance to effectively use the tools necessary to operate in today’s business world, such as that provided by the Department for Education’s Skills Tool Kit.

I have now seen a number of virtual ideas in action and would be delighted to share if you are considering virtual in your organisation.


I am delighted to see many of us coming together to support those who are having a tough time.

Springboard, the hospitality training charity, has revolutionised its careers portal, CareerScope now pools the support available from five key partners – Springboard, UK Hospitality, Institute of Hospitality, Hospitality Action and Savoy Educational Trust. Advice and support (e.g. redundancy, financial, wellbeing), training, career advice and jobs are now in one place. Also, Springboard to 2022, will be training 10,000 young people over the next 18 months to ensure they are ready for work as the industry recovers from the pandemic.

As labour demand in travel, hospitality and much of the retail market collapsed, demand in food production, plus associated transport and delivery services, massively outstripped supply. Staffline which owns PeoplePlus, quickly launched two initiatives, Feed the Nation and Deliver to the Nation.

So far, these initiatives have supported over 25,000 people who have lost their jobs to reskill and secure employment with recruiting organisations.

Andrew Porter, Group Resourcing Director and Marisol Milsom, Head of Social Resourcing Programmes for Capita are working with The Youth Group to deliver great initiatives. They invite collaboration by creating a ‘collective’ of like-minded organisations to support youth employment. You can read more here on Andrew’s recent LinkedIn Blog.


The NHS employs more than 1.5 million people and offers over 350 different roles. Health Education England (HEE) supports those from underrepresented backgrounds to access careers in healthcare. HEE has launched a national NHS work experience network to connect and share good practice and are assessing the potential for a national NHS work experience management platform. These initiatives provide a national resource repository including toolkits to support both face-to-face and online work experience initiatives. Find out more: and


In October, LinkedIn stated that 150 million tech jobs will be available globally over the next five years. Microsoft has launched a UK campaign, ‘Get on 2021’ to help 1.5 million people build careers in technology and help 300,000 connect to tech job opportunities (find out more here). Additionally, working with LinkedIn to establish the top 10 most advertised jobs, Microsoft along with GitHub has produced skills training for these in-demand jobs. These courses are currently free until March 2021. Find them here:

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is expanding its ‘re/Start’ programme in EMEA.  AWS re/Start partners to access certain groups, i.e. NEET, those leaving the care sector, returners etc. A 12-week bootcamp prepares the student to become an AWS practitioner. Support to secure a job is also provided. Find out more:


““Construction has a massive impact on the performance of the wider economy; for every £1 spent on construction output, an additional £2.84 of total economic activity is generated.” – Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) strategic plan, 2021 – 2025. CITB is investing £110m for apprentices and employers, on top of grant support, supporting 28,000 taster experiences, investment in Go-Construct, and using the Grants Scheme plus other funding to help employers invest in training, to first rebuild after the pandemic and then to modernise and raise productivity. Find out more:


Spending Review 2020 states that the recovery from Covid-19 must be green which impacts many industries. Transport and logistics as one of our growth industries and highest-emitting sectors has prioritised investment to zero-emission vehicles, homes and buildings need to be net zero-ready and there is investment in clean energy technologies. This includes a Carbon Capture and Storage Infrastructure Fund and additional investment in low hydrogen carbon production, offshore wind, and nuclear power. In our new green space, there is a smorgasbord of opportunities for all age groups. Speakers for Schools will launch ‘Green Skills Week ‘in April 2021, targeted at 14-19-year-olds – this is a great platform for us all to educate ourselves. Find out more:


Many businesses want to include social mobility objectives and there is a growing trend to link social mobility targets to supply chain contracts. Below is some information (in alphabetical order) and contact details if you would like to know more.

Care leavers

“Covid-19 has had a significant impact on the care leavers we support through our Employment, Training & Skills programmes. We have seen the number of support services available to care leavers become more limited, leading to increased feelings of loneliness, mental health issues and a general increased vulnerability. Specifically, they have told us that without specialist face-to-face contact they are struggling to access crucial resources and coaching to enhance their chances of reaching positive destinations with employers.” – Rebecca Knowles, Barnardo’s Service Manager, Employment, Training & Skills.


Published in October 2020 by Leonard Cheshire, a UK disability charity, over seven in 10 (71%) disabled employees have lost income, become unemployed or been furloughed by their employer since March 2020. This data was collected after Leonard Cheshire surveyed 1171 working-age disabled people and 502 employers. Additionally, over two in five employers (42 per cent) stated that they were discouraged from hiring a disabled person due to feeling they were unable to properly support them during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ethnic diversity 

A Lloyd’s of London report titled “Ethnic Diversity in the Workplace”, which surveyed over 900 professionals in July-August of 2020 revealed that 71% of Black employees reported facing barriers when it came to recruitment. This was in comparison to only 35% of White employees. The 10,000 Black Interns programme will offer paid work experience across a wide range of sectors, providing training and development opportunities and creating a sustainable cycle of mentorship and sponsorship for the Black community. Find out more:


Duncan O’Leary from New Futures Network (NFN), the specialist part of the prison service that works with employers, confirmed that employment for people leaving prison has been secured with Greene King, The Civil Service and Government contractors, amongst other national organisations. NFN also administers a partnership programme with the major banks to ensure that people leave prison with a bank account, which is vital for accessing employment, accommodation and universal credit. Duncan can be contacted at


Janice Lopatkin, Programme Manager for the Refugee Employment Network said:

“The effect of Covid-19 on refugee employment has meant that 1 in 3 refugees have lost their jobs and unsurprisingly the majority of those are in the hospitality and retail industry. The Refugee Employment Network (REN) is focusing on finding opportunities in industries that have the potential for growth in the coming months and therefore we are working with supermarkets, care providers and construction companies. In addition, we are looking at local needs by assessing the opportunities for employment is in the NE, NW and Midlands areas of England. Refugee employment is always challenging and it has been made more difficult by the pandemic. REN needs more than ever to partner with Movement to Work who can access training and jobs for refugees so they can start to rebuild their lives in the UK.”  

The above highlights the perils facing many as unemployment and particularly youth unemployment escalates. Training providers are receiving feedback that employers worry about supporting work experience and vocational opportunities. MtW continues to collaborate, support and promote initiatives which will lead to employment. One such initiative is the Ride Out Recession Alliance (RORA) launched by The Big Issue, which is all about sharing and helping mobilise ideas by working as one.


Debs Gordon is Head of Outreach for Movement to Work, a vibrant not-for-profit community of UK employers, youth-outreach organisations, training providers and government allies – all aiming to level the playing field for young age people aged 16-30 facing barriers to work.

Debs can be contacted at

#MovementToWork #YoungPeopleWork

Debbie Gordon – MtW Head of Outreach