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Back to Impact report 2022-23

Developing the workforce of the future

Despite the tight labour market, securing a positive first step on the job ladder is still a challenge for many young people.

Earlier this year, the Institute for Employment Studies found that around a fifth of employers did not hire from the 22-25 age group and two-fifths didn’t hire anyone aged 18-21. Just over a quarter hired younger workers because it’s more affordable, with interviews recording that it was often into low-skilled and low-paid jobs. Obstacles were identified as a lack of skills (42%), lack of experience (36%) and a lack of confidence (34%).1

Too many young people continue to face the catch 22: no skills, no job; no job, no skills but for others, the danger has become: no skills, dead-end job; dead-end job, no skills. According to the Skills Builder Partnership, once in work, 46% of young people felt able to regularly build their essential skills but nearly the same proportion (45%) did not.2

1. Institute for Employment Studies, 2023, Bridging the Gap: Making young people a vital part of every workforce
2. Skills Builder Partnership, 2021, Better Prepared, Essential skills and employment outcomes for young people

Making the case for youth social action

“Challenges with recruitment were one of the key issues facing employers in 2022… investing in the young workforce is an intrinsic part of the solution.” –Institute for Employment Studies3

The urgent need for programmes like City Year UK, which help diverse young adults bypass the ‘skills trap’ of low pay and low prospects and lead to ‘good jobs’, is clear. However in 2022-2023, the cost of living crisis hit our mentor recruitment. We dipped from 105 full-time volunteers in 2021-2022 to 96 and of those not completing the programme, nearly 1 in 5 gave finances as the reason.

3. Institute for Employment Studies, 2023, Bridging the Gap: Making young people a vital part of every workforce

Our response to the cost of living crisis

“The cost-of-living crisis was the biggest concern for students, with 7 in 10 students (69%) worrying about money either daily or weekly.” –Cibyl, September, 2023. In response, we’ve:

Have your resume and references

introduced new approaches to broaden participation and increased financial support available, including hardship grants.

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widened our range of university partnerships; working with 32 higher education institutions to offer student placements.

Find a place to focus

incorporated feedback from mentors to inform our leadership and development programme and careers pathway.

Developing our Careers Pathway programme

Our aim is to ensure that City Year is accessible to diverse young people and that giving a year is worth their investment. Our mentors need to have the confidence that they’ll gain the right skills and opportunities for their journey into worthwhile employment.

Steps to improve take up of the mentor role

  • deepened our understanding of the target market
  • re-stated our case for City Year as a stand out option post-18, post-university or for a student placement
  • piloted targeted, holistic support for NEET young people

Value added to accelerate career progression

  • goal not just to get a job but to get a better job
  • additional CMI Level 3 qualification

Improved access to business and employer engagement

  • focused post-pandemic on providing in-workplace visits
  • partnered with a broader range of industries
  • introduced paid internship opportunities post City Year

City Year gave me the chance to grow both personally and professionally and it was clear from my first interview that they were willing to invest in my development as a leader. This was exactly what I wanted: to develop more well-rounded skills and build my confidence.”

Hope City Year mentor, 2021-2022 and school service leader, 2022-2023

Future plans

In 2023-2024, in response to the cost of living crisis:

  • increasing mentor expenses by 25%
  • piloting part-time service model

Longer term:

  • aspire to provide end of programme grants to support mentors’ progression
  • continue to campaign for better recognition of UK Year of Service and provision of minimum wage.

Measuring our impact with the Skills Builder Partnership

The mission of the Skills Builder Partnership is to ensure everyone builds the essential skills to succeed. Higher levels of essential skills means people are less likely to be unemployed and they have higher levels of wellbeing. But we also know that opportunities to build these skills effectively are limited, particularly for individuals starting from a position of disadvantage and from underserved groups.

Skills Builder are delighted to be working with City Year UK to provide mentors with opportunities to effectively build essential skills. These young people are supported brilliantly to identify their strengths and areas for development, to reflect on the essential skills they are building throughout the programme, and to track and celebrate the progression they are making. The leadership and development programme has achieved a Skills Builder Impact Level 4, the highest level that can be achieved, because it supports the mentors in setting goals for the skills they want to develop and, after the programme, to track and quantify the progress they have made.”
–Tom Varley, Impact Organisations Manager, Skills Builder Partnership

In 2022-2023, our mentors made significant gains across all 8 essential skills defined by the Skills Builder Partnership as the highly transferable skills that you need to do almost any job. ‘Listening’ showed the highest overall rating and ‘speaking’ registered the greatest improvement. The measurement tool is based on self-assessment but every mentor cross references their scores with their school’s City Year staff member to ensure a robust rating.

Linking skills to prospects

Research by the Skills Builder Partnership has correlated those with higher skills with improved social mobility, employment, earnings, job and life satisfaction. Using their calculator, we can estimate potential life outcomes for specific age groups, linked to the skills they gained during their City Year.

Infographic skillsbuilder tall

Leadership and development programme highlights 2022-2023

Career ready day

84% enjoyed it ‘a lot’

A really well organised and enjoyable day with plenty of opportunities to network, learn, set goals, and reflect.” –City Year mentor

Two thought bubbles with ellipses in each
Interview with a corporate partner

83% found it very useful for personal and professional development

Insightful and gave me a greater awareness of the best approaches to interviews.” –City Year mentor

CMI Level 3 in Leadership and Management

94% passed
74% agreed it had enhanced their skills

I have learnt a lot about the theories of leadership and management. I used to think that I wouldn’t be able to lead because of my shyness but I think that I could use these going forward.” –City Year mentor

Communication skills, leadership and management, independence and initiative, creativity, persistence and dedication, time management, attendance and punctuality are all strengths now thanks to City Year.”

City Year mentor 2022-23

New additions for 2022-2023

CMI Level 3 in Coaching and Mentoring

91% agreed that the qualification would help them in their role; 80% felt it was relevant to their future career aspirations “I’ve gained new ways of dealing with situations with focus list pupils, how feedback works both ways, how to set goals and different coaching and mentoring techniques that I otherwise wouldn't have known about.”

New networks and internships

70% learnt ‘a lot’ at their industry visit; 66% said it ‘exceeded’ expectations; 3 mentors benefitted from summer internships. “I enjoyed the fact that we got to talk to the people working in the field, that we got to explore the industry through discussion.” “The internship went super well. I really enjoyed it and will definitely take a lot away from it.”

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