The economic impact of three lockdowns has created an unequal crisis. Last month's employment statistics show that long-term youth unemployment is kicking in, with the number of young people unemployed for more than six months doubling from a year ago. Young people also account for over half of the fall in employees since March 2020. What’s more, our analysis shows that the crisis is widening long-standing ethnic disparities in job outcomes. Groups of young people who are already marginalised are being pushed further from the labour market. 

Mapping the youth employment system 

We need to rethink the system, collectively and collaboratively, to avoid a generation’s future being damaged by the scarring effects of high worklessness.  That is why we are working with the Social Change Agency to map the youth employment ‘system’ in England. Our aim is to use the findings with partners across the system, to identify and address barriers and opportunities facing young people from marginalised backgrounds. The findings will highlight what is and isn’t working, what needs to change, and will inform our grant-making and policy priorities. 

Focus groups with young people 

The perspectives and experiences of young people themselves need to be at the heart of our understanding of the system. That's why we are holding a series of focus groups with young people from three ‘common experience’ backgrounds, and we need your help to share these opportunities with young people in your networks. 

Their perspectives and experiences will feed into a wider system map to shape collective action to address barriers to youth employment.  After talking to our youth amabassdors, we are looking at three ‘common experience’ groups of young people. Evidence shows that each of these groups face significant disadvantages when seeking good employment, meaning they will be particularly vulnerable in the current crisis. These groups are: 

  • Young people with experience of the criminal justice system – first workshop 24 May – more details, including how to register, available online 
  • Young people with experience of the care system – first workshop 1 June – more details, including how to register, available online 
  • Young people of Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage – first workshop 2 June – more details, including how to register, available online 

During the focus groups, participants will discuss their personal experiences and views surrounding work with other young people and researchers. This is a paid research opportunity – participants will be compensated £100 (cash or voucher) for attending two workshops over the next few months. 

If you are an organisation supporting young people, please promote this opportunity to young people you work with and encourage them to sign up to participate as soon as possible! 

Following these focus groups, we will also be engaging Youth Futures' partners throughout June and July to help us all understand how the system operates and where change is needed. If you have questions about the project, the young people focus groups or the stakeholder workshops, please get in touch with us at 

Thank you