Local Funding Flows for Youth Employment and Skills

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Anne Green and Abigail Taylor discuss their new project with Connecting Futures to identify, describe and map funding flows from national to local areas for youth employment and skills.

Visit the Local Funding Flows for Youth Employment and Skills webpage.

The Connected Futures Fund (CFF) is a £16 million fund from the Youth Futures Foundation to support young people to get good jobs through pioneering local partnerships. The main focus is on those young people who face the most discrimination and disadvantage in the labour market.

The CFF is concerned with changing the ways that wider systems work in areas where significant numbers of young people face disadvantages. The funding is targeted at seven local areas in England with some of the highest NEET rates and deprivation indicators: Burnley, Hastings, D2N2, Hull, Lewisham, Blackpool, and Brent.

In summer 2022, City-REDI was commissioned by the Youth Futures Foundation to undertake research to identify, describe and map the flows of funding from national to local areas for young people (aged 14-24 years) employment and skills.

Research Questions

The focus of the research questions is indicated in the diagram below:

In particular, the project investigates:

  1. Where does funding for local youth employment/skills activity come from?
  2. What kinds of organisations receive funding locally?
  3. What are the goals of different funding streams?
  4. What economic incentives exist for youth employment funding – from the government, partnerships, and other entities?
  5. Who makes funding decisions at different geographical scales? Are young people involved in those decisions?
  6. What funding models are most common in youth employment and skills?
  7. What are local actors incentivised to act on, care about and count?
  8. What are the intended outcomes? Who identified these outcomes? What outputs are monitored?
  9. Have different funding sources been evaluated?
  10. What levers exist for local policy makers to focus funding on the most marginalised young people?
  11. What are the future prospects for different funding streams?
Research phases

The project has four main phases as illustrated below:

This image shows the 4 phase of the project: Phase 1: Scoping and development of project Phase 2: Desk work Phase 3: Deep dive case studies Phase 4: Finalisation of deliverables

Progress so far

We have created a data capture pro forma to review different programmes/initiatives and identify the availability of data for each fund. It is designed to enable the identification of the following features of the funds:

·        Funder and Commissioner
·        Geography of programme/ initiative
·        The total scale of funding
·        Value of funding for young people
·        Type of contract – design
·        Type of contract – delivery model and role
·        Whether competitively tendered, allocated or
·        Delivery providers – name and type
·        Programme/ Initiative focus – Type of services offered
·        Target groups – including sub-group coverage
·        Temporal coverage
·        Geographical coverage
·        Reports summarising programme/ initiative and associated metadata
·        Evaluation reports
·        Other comments/ observations

We began the desk work by analysing funding flows for young people for nationally contracted employment and skills programmes funded through the Department for Work and Pensions (e.g. the Work and Health Programme), the Department for Education (e.g. Adult Education Budget) and the European Social Fund (e.g. Youth Employment Initiative). We have also investigated distributed grants such as the Towns Fund.

We have established an Advisory Board made up of representatives from central government, regional government, academia, Further Education and the Third Sector with whom we can discuss issues regarding the scope, content and findings emerging from the work. Key points so far include:

-The complexity of the funding landscape and the lack of publicly available data suggest we may wish to focus on the bigger funds and those directly focused on young people.

-That the mainstream funding that goes through colleges and private training providers supports mechanisms by which young people progress into employment (although this might not be focused on young people).

Transitions, age cut-offs and funding: ‘Is it necessary to stick to defining young people as those aged 16-24?’ Given current labour market challenges, it could be that 16-29 might be a more appropriate age group to focus on.

-When thinking about funding, it could be useful to consider various governance structures due to different levers in Combined Authorities.

-The importance of considering the demand side and the quality of jobs available locally to beneficiaries of employment and skills programmes.

This blog was written by Anne Green, Professor of Regional Economic Development and Dr Abigail Taylor, Research Fellow, City-REDI  / WMREDI, University of Birmingham.

The views expressed in this analysis post are those of the authors and not necessarily those of City-REDI, WMREDI or the University of Birmingham.

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