Benefit Boot Camps

Today the Government has announced its plans to put further sanctions around young people who are unemployed.

Our Youth Ambassadors are currently sharing their thoughts on the new sanctions.  Ambassador views are mixed, some think that young people do need additional support to break into the world of work, whilst others feel this is further fuel for #Workfare.

Government is putting these “Boot Camp” measures in because they are listening to employers who regularly voice that young people do not have the skills for work. There are also too many young people unemployed, something has to be done. Without overhauling the education system to offer a more employment focused curriculum i.e. embedding a work culture, enterprise education and better quality vocational pathways, the next place to drive up skills is the Jobcentre.

The reality of youth unemployment is that young people do need job search support and training.  On top of that young people need to have some form of work experience under their belts, from part-time paid work experience through to volunteering, it all counts and is ever necessary when looking for that 1st role post education. It simply is what it is – right or wrong.  When 100 people apply for one job it will always be the person with the right CV, right experience and right approach that wins.

What we need to do is to help create inspiring, meaningful and quality programmes and work experiences.  We need to highlight the companies that Create Opportunities and offer Fair Employment. We must showcase the best of apprenticeships and traineeships that offer real training, qualifications and will lead into full-time, rewarding and sustainable employment for young people.  We must use these examples of best practice to rat out the poor practice that give work experience and apprenticeships a bad name.

Many, many employers do the right thing and, after previous #WorkFare scandals, organisations have looked at their offer for young people and made huge improvements.  It is isolated incidences of bad practice that still get the most amount of press. Just as it’s the isolated incidences of people on benefits that abuse the system that give everyone a bad rap. Most people especially young people on benefits don’t want to be there, it’s just that they need someone to give them an opportunity to progress.

At Youth Employment UK we work with hundreds of organisations who help young people through some of the best programmes I have ever seen, and we work with thousands of young people who have benefitted from pre-employment training, either through education or with youth organisations around the UK.  But we also work with young people who have had terrible experiences, who have horror stories of their time on benefits, in the work programme and in zero hour contracts.

YEUK_badge-NEW_001My biggest concern with any programme of offer for young people is quality.  The work programme has not consistently offered quality support for young people, what are the measures in place with the new sanction to ensure that the advisers and placements are of the highest standards?  In setting the target of 3 million apprenticeships, can we ensure the quality with such high volume? How do we stop organisations abusing the system? If quality was the priority over quantity and the target focus was shifted we may start to see the landscape of youth employment changing for the better.

We have to create a “youth friendly” culture and encourage best practice at all times.

  • Our work at Youth Employment UK gives voice to young people who are affected by these legislation changes and work programmes. We offer organisations the opportunity to learn from and work with young people to make things better.
  • Our Youth Friendly badge is given to organisations who commit to best practice when working with young people – Youth Voice, Create Opportunity, Recognise Talent, Fair Employment and Develop People are the 5 principles that make a place Youth Friendly
  • The Youth Friendly Awards showcase the best employers working the hardest on these principles
  • Youth Employment UK Membership services offers huge support to organisations who want to develop quality programmes for young people
  • The work we do with government through our campaigns, the All-Party Parliamentary Group and partnership work helps government to understand the needs of the communities we work with

If you wish to talk to YEUK about our work and how you can get involved please call us on 0844 4143101 if you have any media inquiries and would like to speak to a representative or YEUK Youth Ambassador please email

Are you a young person affected by the Government plans? Do you want to share your story? Then please get in touch with

For more information, please email or call 01536 513388.

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