Economy, Welfare to Work

-Work Programme providers will be crucial in stemming youth unemployment




Work Programme providers will be crucial in stemming the rising tide of youth unemployment, says ERSA

As youth unemployment today hits a record high of 991,000, the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), the trade body for the welfare to work industry, has announced its partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to develop solutions to tackle youth unemployment.


At a conference on ‘The Challenge of Youth Unemployment’ held on Monday 3 October, over 100 Work Programme providers met to examine the barriers faced by young people getting work and discussed the most effective strategies to supporting young people into employment. Speaking at the event, Kirsty McHugh, Chief Executive of ERSA, called for:


  • Stronger transitional arrangements for young people moving between employment support provision designed for 16-17 year olds and the Work Programme;
  • Good quality nationally available careers guidance.  Providers can play an important role in providing effective advice and guidance to young people.  However, this cannot take the place of a national careers guidance service available to young people both before and after they reach school-leaving age;
  • Work Programme providers to support apprenticeships as part of welfare to work provision.  At preset only 12% of apprentices are former benefit claimants. Providers have the potential to play a far greater role in facilitating Information and careers guidance services to children before they reach school-leaving age.


Kirsty McHugh, Chief Executive of ERSA commented:

 “Employment services providers recognise the urgent scale of the challenge of youth unemployment. Too many young people from workless backgrounds struggle to find work and have low expectations for the future.  However most young people want to work rather than live on benefits. The welfare to work industry can deliver the tailored services that young people need to give them the confidence and skills to get into employment. We therefore welcome the opportunity to work with government to help rise to this challenge.’


Charlie Mullins of Pimlico Plumbers who also spoke at the event said:

 “Make no mistake, people like me are in desperate need of solid reliable employees, and contrary to popular belief we are not averse to putting our hands in our pockets to give people the necessary training. However what we do demand is that candidates understand that not only do they need to bring with them the basics like a good education, but also they need to understand that to be successful they need to be prepared to adopt the culture of an organisation.


For press enquiries please contact Philip Curry: / 020 7960 6317.



Notes to editors

  • ERSA is the authoritative voice of the welfare to work sector. It represents 90% of the prime contractors that have been awarded contracts under the Work Programme and many of the subcontractors. It also represents 100% of providers of Work Choice, the specialist disability programme.
  • ERSA’s membership is comprised of small specialist charities through to large organisations. 50% of our members are from the not-for-profit sector.

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