Greater Manchester’s Hidden Talent was a voluntary youth employment programme (young people choose to take part) that operated from March 2019 to June 2021.The programme was co-funded by The National Lottery Community Fund and Greater Manchester Combined Authority.
The programme helped hidden young people aged 18-25 progress towards and into employment. There was an emphasis on improving individuals’ self-esteem and general wellbeing.
Hidden young people are not in employment, education or training and not claiming any benefits
GMCVO provided leadership, governance and infrastructure support to the programme’s Delivery Partners, nine of whom recruited and worked with young people; providing individualised, strength-based holistic employability support.
Why did we do this?
Research from Greater Manchester Talent Match in 2018 revealed there to be over 21,000 hidden young people living in Greater Manchester. Over 25% of the young people supported by Greater Manchester Talent Match were hidden.
Because the majority of employment support programmes only target ‘known’ young people (those claiming out-of-work benefits), we decided to focus our efforts on hidden young people. These young people are at increased risk of becoming separated from initiatives and contacts that improve the likelihood of employment.
What did we learn?
To view our end of programme learning submitted to the National Lottery, please click here.
We expanded our understanding of why young people, who stand to gain from employment support, are not claiming benefits. Not knowing how to claim; misunderstanding eligibility; the perceived difficulty of claiming and difficult experiences when previously claiming, were the main reasons given by young people.
We learned that hidden young people are hard to identify. Those organisations who were the most firmly embedded in communities and with the strongest reputation of finding work for young people, stood the best chance of locating hidden young people
During the Covid-19 lockdowns, we saw that effective employment support is indivisible from wellbeing support. The individualised, holistic approach of our Talent Coaches enabled them to shift gear and support young people with a wide variety of vital health and wellbeing needs. At the same time, the pandemic did affect engagement, highlighting how pivotal face-to-face relationship building is for young people who are struggling with their confidence and finding direction
Throughout the programme, our Youth Panel, were core to the programme. Their perspectives on recruitment processes lent our work with employers a real edge of authenticity and authority; their interviews with young people on the programme, Peer Evaluations , yielded open responses we might not have obtained ourselves; and they could review Jobcentre Plus services from the point of view of young service users. All of this work affirmed that young people should be central to the planning, delivery and evaluation of services / programmes that serve them.
What happened as a result?
GM's Hidden Talent has supported 295 young people. Of these young people:
29% have entered sustainable employment
59% have undertaken volunteering and work placements
65% have started looking for work
63% have taken up training / courses
18% have entered long-term education
We also measured how the young people on the programme were supported with their mental health and wellbeing;
47% of young people increased their ability to manage feelings, deal with issues, cope and manage problems between registration and exit
51% of young people increased their confidence, self-esteem, self-belief, self-respect, self-awareness and ability to deal with nerves
42% of young people increased their hope and optimism
We used our knowledge of positive and inclusive recruitment practices to influence regional employer engagement initiatives. Our employer toolkit was endorsed and promoted by the GM Good Employment Charter and an adapted version was created in collaboration with Salford City Council. Our virtual recruitment toolkit was endorsed by Youth Employment UK and appears on their website.
During the first Covid-19 lockdown, we shared our Delivery Partners’ evidence of young people’s needs and the related gaps in provision, with regional and national responses to the escalating youth unemployment crisis.
We attended all working groups of the Greater Manchester Young Person’s Guarantee Task Force, submitting written proposals that were reflected in the Guarantee’s recommendations for the next phase of response.
We also sat on the Greater Manchester Kickstart Board, ensuring that our Talent Coaches’ concerns about hidden young people’s non-access to the Kickstart scheme were communicated to senior regional Department of Work and Pensions staff.
Through our presence on local authority-led youth employment working groups, we consistently raised the potential to reduce the number of hidden young people through improved tracking of young people’s destinations post-18 .
In partnership with Manchester City Council and the Youth Panel, we created M-EET Your Match, an opportunities listing website specifically aimed at young people in Manchester who are not in employment. The site will be updated until March 2022.