Skill Up Step Up: Cross-party backing for our appeal to get youngsters into work

·5-min read
Skill Up Step Up: Cross-party backing for our appeal to get youngsters into work

Senior MPs from across the Commons have united behind the Evening Standard and The Independent’s Skill Up Step Up campaign to help unemployed young people into work.

Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey hailed it as a “fantastic” move as part of efforts to “unleash the talent of the next generation”. Her Labour counterpart Jonathan Ashworth praised the “ground-breaking project” and the “leadership” it was showing.

Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman Munira Wilson stressed the scheme would also help to tackle the labour shortage crisis faced by many businesses in London.

Skill Up Step Up is a joint Christmas appeal to support unemployed young people into work through sustainable jobs or apprenticeships and transform their lives.

It has been awarded £1million from Barclays and partnered with the Barclays LifeSkills programme to deliver funding over two years for up to five charities. They will help disadvantaged jobless young people to improve their work skills by giving them employability training.

 (Evening Standard)
(Evening Standard)

Ms Coffey said: “As we wrap up a challenging year for some young jobseekers, it’s fantastic to see the Evening Standard joining the cause to get youngsters on that first rung of the career ladder.

“Through the face-to-face support offered in our job centres and youth hubs we see the potential of young Londoners every day and it’s vital for business to be a partner in opening up opportunities for them.”

She added: “We know it changes lives, with 21,000 young people in the city having secured jobs for employers of all sizes through our Kickstart scheme.”

Mr Ashworth stressed that “the despair of unemployment” is a “waste of the extraordinary talents” of young Londoners.

He added: “Congratulations to the Standard and all involved in this ground-breaking project that really will transform the life chances of young people across the capital. We need this type of leadership nationwide.”

Ms Wilson, Liberal Democrat MP for Twickenham, said: “It’s great to see charities and the private sector teaming up to give young Londoners the skills that will help them get their footing in the job market. I know first-hand from business owners in Twickenham that they are crying out for skilled staff. Initiatives like this are a big help in tackling the labour shortage crisis.”

The appeal has three strands:

Encouraging unemployed young people to sign up for free employability training from one of its charity partners.

Urging employers, large or small, to join the campaign by offering these young people, who have learned new work skills, a job or an apprenticeship.

Calling on readers to donate what they can so even more disadvantaged young people can be helped into jobs.

The first charity selected by Skill Up Step Up is Springboard, a UK-wide group based in east London that makes jobless people “work-ready” and has a track record of finding them posts in the hospitality sector. Our second charity, City Gateway, prepares youngsters for sectors including digital media, finance, IT and marketing.

The appeal comes as a significant number of young Londoners struggle to find work because of a mismatch of skills and jobs available. Youth unemployment in the capital has soared by 55 per cent to 105,000 since the start of the pandemic, meaning 21 per cent of 16-24 year-olds are jobless despite record job vacancies.

Lord Lee of Trafford, a former tourism minister, was moved by our campaign to yesterday put down three written questions in the House of Lords.

They challenge the Government to match-fund our appeal to the tune of £1million, address high black youth unemployment in London of 37 per cent and ask for measures to help the hospitality sector fill job vacancies.

What are we doing?

We have launched SKILL UP STEP UP, a £1m initiative in partnership with Barclays LifeSkills to upskill unemployed and disadvantaged young Londoners so they can be “work ready” and step up into sustainable jobs or apprenticeships.

Why are we doing this?

Youth unemployment in London has soared by 55 per cent to 105,000 since the start of the pandemic, meaning that 21 per cent of 16-24 year-olds are jobless at a time of record job vacancies of 1.17M countrywide. This mismatch, caused largely by an employability skills and experience gap, is leading to wasted lives and billions of pounds of lost productivity for our economy.

How will it work?

The £1M from Barclays will provide grant funding over two years for up to five outstanding handpicked charities that provide disadvantaged jobless young Londoners with employability skills and wrap-around care to get them into the labour market and transform their lives.

The charity partners we have announced so far are:

Springboard – they will support young people into jobs in the hospitality industry (hotels, restaurants, bars, leisure and tourism) via a 3-6 week programme that includes one-to-one mentoring, soft skills and employability development (confidence, work attitude, CV building, interview practice, time management), practical industry and hard skills training including food safety and customer service, as well as access to work experience placements.

City Gateway – they will get young people work ready with a 12-week employability programme, including digital skills, a work placement, CV and interview skills and a dedicated one-to-one coach, extending to up to 20 weeks if they need English and/or Maths qualifications, enabling them to gain entry level positions including apprenticeships in a wide range of sectors, including finance, digital media, marketing, retail, property and IT.

More partner charities will be announced in due course.

How can jobless young Londoners skill up?

If you are aged 16-24 and want to upskill towards a job in hospitality, contact Springboard at:

If you want to upskill towards a job in any other sector, contact City Gateway at:

For tools, tips and learning resources, visit:

How to help

How can employers step up?

We want companies — large, medium and small — to step up to the plate with a pledge to employ one or more trainees in a job or apprenticeship. They could work in your IT, customer service, human resources, marketing or sales departments, or any department with entry-level positions. You will be provided with a shortlist of suitable candidates to interview.

To get the ball rolling, contact the London Community Foundation, who are managing the process at:

How can readers help?

The more money we raise, the more young people we can skill up. To donate go to

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