We aim at VolunteerKinetic to share with you the latest stories we think are important in the Voluntary sector. We will look to start discussions and lead comment on how the sector is developing. It is our hope that we can lead to a positive and effective exchange of ideas that will see the sector develop.
VolunteerKinetic have technical expertise in volunteer management, deployment recruitment and retention, but we want to work with people across the sector to build our real world experience.
Our opening review of literature is written by Tim Smedley in the Guardian Voluntary sector section. Tim looks specifically at the work of Voluntary organisations and Young people not in Education, Employment or Training. It seems that it is a lack of co-ordination between many of the Voluntary organisations, education providers and local authorities, as well as the convoluted process organisations must go through in order to offer opportunities to young people.
As we move into the next phase of technological development, a lack of co-ordination should not be the limiting factor for the Voluntary sector. However it continues to be so. It is the opinion of us at VolunteerKinetic that as a sector we need to develop standards to share, work together and to move forwards maximising the technology available rather than it being fragmented, lead by slow incumbents and bogged down in process and red tape.
Please read this excellent article and share your opinions with us here at VolunteerKinetic, let us know what you think the voluntary sector needs to develop into the 21st century.
The role for the voluntary sector must be to bridge the gap between education and employment, experts say
The ‘lost generation’ seems an apt moniker for today’s young jobseekers. Recent ONS figures show 1.09 million young people aged 16 to 24 in the UK are not in education, employment or training (Neets). Just over half (53%) are classified as unemployed.
At a recent event hosted by the Guardian in association with NPC, ‘Can we prevent a “lost generation ?: the role for the charity sector’, Paul Gregg, professor of economic and social policy, University of Bath, explained that from the 1980s and 1990s recessions, “we have learnt that a young person who has accumulatively had a year out of work by the time they are 24 are 70% more likely to have a further spell of unemployment five years later […] roll on a further 10, 15 years, and you get a lost generation […] they never really catch up.”
The role for the voluntary sector, experts speaking at the event agreed, must be to bridge the gap between education and employment. Currently, said Gregg, “There is no single government department responsible for this transitional period […] between leaving school and entering work, and that gap has widened for a lot of people. Half of Neets have never worked at all […] This is where the charity sector can do a lot of good work, to keep them active, keep them connected and bridge that space.”
However despite the vast array of voluntary organisations and public sector bodies attempting to do just that, it often proves frustrating. Cllr Rachel Heywood, cabinet member for children and families, Lambeth, informed that working in one of the country’s most deprived areas, “the landscape is incredibly complicated. We have hundreds of different providers in Lambeth and something more is needed around co-ordination and making a more coherent offer… I can say to a young person that there are 500 organisations out there, and they reply ‘but I have not been able to get any advice or help whatsoever’. That’s absolutely got to change.”
As part of its co-operative council model Lambeth has set up the Young Lambeth Co-operative (YLC), a youth-led committee to review and design youth initiatives. Abraham Lawal, a young representative of the YLC, said, “the previous way of youth service provision, as I have seen things, has been top-down, council-led, dictated at times, a lack of dialogue, and tokenistic – this has produced services that young people don’t want or, worse, are not aware of […] This is where the YLC comes in. As a membership organisation, young people are represented at all levels […] acting as a nexus through which all parties interested in young people can enter.”
The Princes Trust, working with 58,000 young Neets this year, focuses on bridging the gap through a portfolio of programmes designed to cover all stages from 13 to 30. “This takes young people from our education programmes right up to accessing employment”, informed Richard Chadwick, the Trust’s director of central operations. “A 13-year old might take part in a Prince’s Trust XL club in a school, all the way up to our Enterprise programme for self employment.” Each programme aims to provide quality work experience opportunities, typically in partnership with private sector employers such as RBS, M&S and HSBC.
Rhian Johns, director of policy and campaigns, Impetus – The Private Equity Foundation, provided the funders’ viewpoint, agreeing that, “if a young person can recall four or more employer contacts whilst they are at school, they are five times less likely to be Neets […] however many donors and businesses often comment that they want to work with schools, they want to work with young people and provide mentoring opportunities, but they find it quite difficult – sometimes schools are quite reticent, or they don’t have a dedicated member of staff to do that. So organisations like us play an important bridging role, speaking the language of both business and charity.” Johns also suggested that every school should have a governor dedicated to providing a link to local employers.
However some delegates argued that current funding mechanisms do not encourage cross-sector partnerships. “It can be difficult to work in partnership with the voluntary sector, we all have different expectations”, said Heywood. “We’ve got to stop trying to carve out a chunk for ourselves, guarding it fiercely, and then saying ‘let’s try and work together’.” Similarly, said Rosie Ferguson, a delegate from London Youth, “funding-specific interventions incentivise us in the voluntary sector to claim that we have magic bullet interventions, whereas actually what’s really going to work is funding cross-sector partnerships to deliver against a set of principles that we know to work.”
Sasha Leacock, a delegate from Forest Hill School, also responded, “I’m from a school, my role is to develop projects and partnerships for exactly this kind of thing. But funding is hard to access and if you want to make partnerships and join networks, because we’re small we’re a nobody […] we’ve got a music project at the moment where we tried to develop some work experience and get young people learning about the music industry, [but] when I approach funders I was told ‘oh, we only work with this set of schools in this area’… we talk about scaling up but its really difficult when the support isn’t there.”
Chadwick conceded that approaching large employers is easier for large charities such as the Princes Trust, but stressed that the biggest drivers of growth for new jobs are small to medium-sized local businesses. Also, he warned against chasing funding. “In the old days I would say we were quite funding-driven, looking for opportunities and adapting our programmes to those; we are more outcomes driven now. We’ve found that if you find those outcomes from the start, then the funding will often follow.”
There was also some frustration in the room over the loss of effective policy measures such as the Future Jobs Fund and the Education Maintenance Allowance. Dan Corry, chief executive, NPC, and former head of Number 10 policy under Gordon Brown, offered an effective summary: “I feel very strongly that the voluntary sector mustn’t lose its advocacy and campaigning role over issues it cares about, whether funders or providers. And the phrase the ‘lost generation’ – although I totally understand why people resist it – at the moment we need a bit of anger about the situation we’re in… frankly there’s not enough decent jobs that pay decent wages with decent progression opportunities. It is the voluntary sector’s role to say, ‘we will try and help these young people, but we [also] need the right policies to create more jobs and more hope’.”