The local partnership between D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership (D2N2LEP), Direct Education Business Partnership (DEBP) and Nottinghamshire County Council, is delighted to announce we have been selected as one of only seven projects to be awarded the Connected Futures Fund from The Youth Futures Foundation.
Youth Futures Foundation was established to find, fund, support and evaluate programmes which help young people to move into meaningful work. They announced the places that will benefit from its ‘Connected Futures’ grants programme at their conference in Birmingham on Thursday 21 July.
The funding opportunity was launched in November 2021, inviting submissions of projects to be delivered in identified Local Authority areas ‘to explore problems with employment support for young people facing disadvantage and mobilise local stakeholders around a shared ambition for change.’
Our project proposal was submitted, in consultation with multiple stakeholders covering Derby City, Chesterfield, Ashfield, Mansfield, and Nottingham City (D2N2 eligible areas). It involves examining the processes and pathways available for young people with Learning Disabilities and/or Autism, to enter employment and identify recommendations for:
- Developing consistent and effective preparing for adulthood processes to enable young people to progress into work.
- Testing activity solutions for work readiness (young people and employers).
The project proposal resulted in more than 100 endorsements from across education, employment, skills, health, and the youth justice system within D2N2 – with all partners recognising that change is needed to improve outcomes. Currently just 1.8% of the working age population with Learning Disabilities and/or Autism secure employment across our local area, meaning that there is a talent pool for employers being lost.
One young person said, “No one really understands how hard it is and how frustrated I can get; I just want a job and to be like everyone else.”
Clare Talati, DEBP Chief Executive Officer said, “Amplifying the voice of young people to inform and influence other key stakeholders is fundamental to ensuring that there are accessible, consistent, and inclusive pathways towards employment. Therefore, we are delighted to be working through Connected Futures to support the aspiration of employment to become a well-deserved and long overdue reality for our young people.”
The project will run from now until January 2024 and is an in-depth research study, followed by an opportunity to test out solutions. Insight+, the research and evaluation branch of DEBP, and lead partner will:
- Conduct extensive interviews with representative young people.
- Conduct interviews with parents/carers to understand their experiences.
- Examine the support offered within education to move young people towards work.
- Analyse the statutory and local processes in place.
- Examine ‘Local Offers’ across D2N2; seeking to identify pathways available for young people to prepare for and enter employment.
- Work with local employers to identify inclusive recruitment practice and develop approaches.
All the evidence will be analysed to identify good practice as well as gaps/weaknesses, within systems, processes, support, approaches, and interventions.
Matthew Poole, Director of Grants and Investment at Youth Futures Foundation, said: “By providing flexible funding, Youth Futures encourages grantees to foster collaboration, innovation and risk-taking whilst acting as a catalyst for wider change – we cannot wait to see what these local group partnerships have in store for young people within their community.”
Will Morlidge, D2N2LEP Chief Executive Officer said, “The Connected Futures project is critical to enabling young people with SEND and autistic spectrum disorders to add value to workplaces across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. It is an ambitious and wide-ranging piece of work which has youth voice at its core.”
About Youth Futures Foundation and the Connected Futures Fund
Youth Futures Foundation is an independent, not-for-profit organisation established in December 2019 to improve employment outcomes for young people from marginalised backgrounds. The foundation launched with an initial endowment of £90m from the Dormant Assets Scheme. Its vision is to narrow the employment gap by identifying what works and why, investing in evidence generation and innovation, and igniting a movement for change.
The Connected Futures Fund aims to join up services and will see local partnerships receive funding to establish new systems that provide young people who face more barriers to employment, with the connected and consistent support they need to get good jobs.