Youth Futures Foundation announces Connected Futures Fund

Youth Futures Foundation logo

When young people facing disadvantage told us what they want from employment support, they talked about changes to the whole system. It is clear that these young people need:  

  • holistic support that responds to their situation by taking their needs and strengths into account 
  • aligned services that work together to help them achieve their goals, rather than pulling in different directions 
  • connected services with effective communication and coordination across organisations and sectors so that they don’t have to navigate everything for themselves 
  • consistent support over time 

We are looking for partnership bids that tackle this issue.

To be successful, applications must be strong advocates of our mission, our ‘what works’ evidence-based approach and support our values.  

Useful information

If you are interested in Connected Futures funding, we recommend you read the following information to prepare for your application:

Applications open

Thursday 4 November 2021 

Applications close

Monday 17 January 2022 midnight

How do I apply?

Please apply online here

If you have a question, please call the Youth Futures Foundation on 020 7553 4539 or email:

Levelling up for young people: Building an Opportunity Guarantee

Levelling up for young people - Building on an Opportunity Guarantee - banner
In the early stages of the COVID crisis last year, five organisations pledged to tackle youth unemployment, especially for young people who face disadvantage in the labour market, by forming the ‘Youth Employment Group’ (YEG).

Since then, over 200 organisations have joined us as we campaign relentlessly for policymakers and politicians to do everything they can to ensure young people do not suffer the long-term ‘scarring’ effects witnessed after previous recessions.

We hope the economy recovers quickly in the coming months and creates more job opportunities, yet the evidence suggests otherwise. The crisis is still very real for young people in the middle of 2021, and even if the labour market begins to improve, the crisis will continue to affect young people in future jobs. What’s more, young people from the most disadvantaged backgrounds will continue to face the greatest barriers to securing a sustainable job.

Of the one in seven young people not in education or employment, the large majority (two thirds of this group and nearly one in ten of all young people) are not actively looking for work. This figure has been virtually unchanged over the last thirty years, through recessions and recovery, with young people with health conditions, disabilities, caring responsibilities and multiple disadvantages all over-represented. The ‘crisis response’ has so far neglected these groups, and the risk is that in this recovery, as with previous ones, those furthest from work continue to be left behind.

Over the past few months, the YEG has been working together to address the challenges posed by the COVID crisis on young people’s prospects.  The YEG’s new paper, ‘Levelling Up for young people: Building an Opportunity Guarantee’ brings together this collaborative effort, establishing a three-stage approach which is broken down between now and early 2022.

We need your help to ensure our message is heard and our recommendations are considered. Support our work by sharing our paper on social media. Together we can make a real difference to young people’s lives.

Share the paper

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Top radio personality and comedian backs awards for young Asians

Young asians award

Comedian and radio personality Noreen Khan has urged anyone who is eligible to make sure they enter this year’s Yorkshire Asian Young Achievers (YAYA) awards.

Noreen, who will be the host of the glittering gala presentation night later this year that will celebrate those shortlisted for the awards, says the nominees last year were all inspirational.

Noreen hosted a virtual ceremony for 2020’s event, and says the stories of those nominated were all moving, with the winners and those shortlisted showing real bravery and determination.

Entries are open until July 19th for the awards scheme which celebrates the achievements of young people of South Asian heritage who were born or live and work in Yorkshire.

Aimed at socially-mobile young achievers who have overcome deprivation and disadvantage or have broken through traditional barriers to progress, the awards attracted scores of entries in its very first year, despite the difficulties created by the pandemic.

The YAYAS are organised by the Bradford-based QED Foundation, a registered charity which exists to improve the social and economic position of disadvantaged communities in partnership with public, private and civil society organisations, along with their headline partners, York St John University.

Noreen, a stand-up comedian and award-winning BBC Radio presenter, currently hosts a show on the BBC Asian Network on weekdays and listening figures show she regularly has one of the most listened-to Asian radio shows in the UK. 

She is looking forward to hosting a physical event this year after last year’s virtual ceremony.

She said: “I was overwhelmed by the courage and determination shown by all those that were nominated in last year’s YAYAs. The stories of these young people really moved me. 

“The YAYAs are open to any young person of South Asian heritage – Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi etc – who was born in, lives or works in Yorkshire. Many of those nominated overcame deprivation and are able to become real role models to others in their local communities.”

She said the awards were important as they give recognition to young people who often come from disadvantaged backgrounds and whose achievements may not normally be noticed or celebrated.

“The message these awards send out is a hugely positive one and one that really seems to resonate with these young people who want to show the world they are contributing in a really brilliant way,” she said.

“I’d encourage anyone who fits the criteria or knows someone who they feel deserves some recognition to put themselves forward. Being nominated or winning could do wonders to boost their personal development and careers, so absolutely nothing to lose here!”

Dr Mohammed Ali OBE, Chief Executive of QED, said: “We are delighted to have such a talented host as Noreen back for this year’s awards. We can’t wait to see her in person after last year’s online event.”

The prestigious gala awards night is due to take place at the Cedar Court Hotel, Bradford, with catering by My Lahore, on November 4.

The keynote speaker at this year’s event will be Professor Akbar Ahmed, a former Pakistani High Commissioner to the UK, and an author, poet, playwright, and filmmaker. He is Professor of International Relations and currently holds the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at the American University of Washington DC.

The award categories are Achievement in School or College; Health/Mental Health and Healthcare; The Arts and Creative Industries; the Private Sector; Media; Education; the Public Sector; the Not-for-Profit Sector; Achievement as a Young Entrepreneur; Sport; and Achievement in Overcoming Life Obstacles.

Details of how to enter the YAYAs can be found at: or via: The closing date for nominations is Monday, July 19, 2021.

York St John University is the primary sponsor of the YAYAs.

Sponsors and supporters of the awards include: The National Science & Media Museum, Barnado’s, Mumtaz, the University of Bradford, GCHQ; Exa Networks, Bradford Council, Trinity College London, the University of York, Leeds City Council, NatWest; LOCALiQ, Cedar Court Hotels, My Lahore, Banner, BITE.


Creating Opportunities Forum Programme: Contract for a National Provider

Buyer: The Home Office
Value: £2.6m
Publication reference: 2021/S 000-015148
Publication date: 1 July 2021
F02: Contract notice
View the opportunity here

The objective of the Creating Opportunities Forum is to empower and support young people at risk of serious violence to be able to access employment-related opportunities and help them develop the skills they need to make a successful transition into work.

In its role, the national provider will deliver wraparound support to the young people participating in the programme to ensure they are able to engage with and benefit from the employment-related opportunities on offer. The national provider will also be responsible for finding employability-related and skills-based opportunities for participants, using its links with local and national businesses, in the 12 geographical areas which have been selected by the Home Office, and pairing participants with suitable opportunities. The Supplier may avail any opportunities made available by the COF or seek to leverage the networks created by other government programmes such as through the Inclusive Economy Partnership’s Transition to Work programme. The COF programme will run until the end of March 2023.

Critical success factors should include offering positive opportunities to develop aspirations and skills, and demonstrable progress in the distance travelled on the journey towards employment for the young people participating in the programme. The young people engaged should be those at risk of being involved in violence. The supplier shall be required to provide evidence of specific employment-related and skills-based activities, the support provided to the young people to access and engage in them, and how undertaking these activities supported their journey towards work.

The Authority is seeking to award a contract by September 2021 to continue until March 2023 giving an approximate duration of 18 months including mobilisation and implementation, for which it has funding of up to £2.6m.

The Authority is providing for two one-year extensions, which is explained further in the procurement documentation. The indicative contract value quoted does not take into account any possible extensions.

The opportunity can be viewed via

The procurement documents are available for unrestricted and full direct access, free of charge, at

Additional information,tenders or requests to participate must be submitted electronically there too. 

Young Empowerment Fund: Funding for 16-25 year olds in East Midlands

Applications are open for young people aged 16 – 25 years old, who are based in the East Midlands to apply for a £500 bursary.

The Young Empowerment Fund invites young people to think of an idea for a creative project that will help with their personal development, develops their skills, and shares their creative voice.

Alongside the bursary, each participant will be offered a package of online support as part of the programme to help them with the delivery of their project. The programme runs from July 2021 until early December 2021 and all projects should be delivered by this end date.

For further information about the Young Empowerment Fund, and for information on how to apply via an online form, please visit the following website:

The deadline for applications is Tuesday 15th June at 9am.

The Mighty Creatives are a member of the Kickstart Community Forum. 

Open Survey: Improving access to good work for young people

Your opinion matters picture

The Institute for Employment Studies is leading a policy project on improving access to good work for young people as part of the Health Foundation’s five-year  Young People’s Future Health Inquiry, aimed at shaping the future youth policy agenda across health, employment, economic security and transport.

Please help support this work by sharing the Young People Quality of Work Survey with young people and partners in your networks:

Never as today, the quality of opportunities that young people have access to should be an integral aspect of youth employment policy. We need to ensure that as we recover from the pandemic there is a true focus on building back better for young people and their future, that no young person gets left behind, and that equality of opportunity and access is at the heart of recovery. To get this message across, young people’s voices need to be heard – loud and clear.

This short survey looks to give young people (16-25) in each of the four UK nations an opportunity to share their views and experiences. It asks them how they define and value  ‘good work’ , what impact Covid-19 has had on their confidence and views around good work, what can support or prevent them from accessing good work, whether they have had experience(s) of work to date, and what impact these have had on their health and wellbeing.

With your support we are hoping to reach as many young people as possible, particularly those whose voices often are not heard. We particularly encourage responses from young people from ethnic minority backgrounds, LGBTQ+ communities, those with a disability or health condition, care leavers, young carers, single parents, those facing or at risk of homelessness, those in the youth justice system, and ex-offenders.

The deadline for the survey has been extended to 30 June. Please share with the young people you engage with.

21 small youth organisations, funded by the Youth Futures Foundation join ERSA membership

ERSA is delighted to share the organisations who have been awarded 12 months free membership. The funding comes from a Youth Futures Foundation grant awarded to ERSA in 2020 to significantly increase its work to tackle youth unemployment. Read the call for applications here. 

The funding is in part being offered as a bursary fund for 21 small youth sector organisations to join ERSA and benefit from the resources and collaboration opportunities. 

Elizabeth Taylor, ERSA CEO said:

“We thank the Youth Futures Foundation for investing in our work to strengthen and promote the services available to the UK’s jobseekers, learners and low earners – a huge proportion of which are young people.

“Our grant is already being put to good use: we have established a Kickstart community of more than 470 organisations participating in forums and collaboration events. 

We are delighted to broaden our reach and gain new insights into the innovative work being undertaken with young people in local communities. Never has it been more important that the work of these life altering organisations is appropriately supported and shared.”

The Youth Futures Foundation was established to find, fund, support and evaluate programmes which help young people to move into meaningful work. Unemployment amongst 16-24-year olds is currently four times as high as any other age group; those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds face the biggest challenge in getting a job.

The following organisations have been selected as ERSA Bursary Holders.


“4-22 Foundation are delighted to have been awarded a Youth Employment Bursary by ERSA. ERSA is an amazing organisation that works to support employability providers and to maximise opportunities and resources whilst also sharing knowledge and learning. We are sure that by working more closely with ERSA , and by utilising their range of services, we will be able to provide more ways to effectively support our young people into work”.

  • Gavin Jackson

EN:Able Communities CIO

Simeon Perry, Head of Operations at EN:Able Communities CIO said:

 “ It is a great honour to be awarded this bursary. It will build on the work that we have done so far. Supporting BAME young people is a key priority in our business plan for post covid #buildbackbetter.”

East Midlands Chamber

“East Midlands Chamber is delighted to be joining ERSA. Being an approved Kickstart Gateway Provider and having over 320 young people who have now started their Kickstart Placement, it is crucial to keep all these young people in sustainable employment. We will be looking to gain more insights and broaden the work we are doing to raise aspirations and ensure that many young people are provided with the support they need to stay in employment.”

  • Pieter Eksteen


“Develop are really pleased to become a member of ERSA as we feel it is important that the young people we work with will be able to have a voice, and that ERSA will provide a great platform to address the complexity of issues they face.”

  • Mark Pike


Di Vernon, CEO of EmployabilityUK said

 “We are delighted to receive the ERSA bursary membership. We have found the support from ERSA invaluable during our journey to become a Kickstart gateway intermediary and employer. The forums are particularly useful and we look forward to being active members”.

Launch It

‘Self-employment is at an all time high in the UK, yet more needs to be done to ensure that starting a business is accessible to all. Launch It are delighted to join ERSA and look forward to working collaboratively to ensure entrepreneurship is high on the government’s agenda and that business support is targeted towards those that will benefit most.’

Laura Symmons, Director of Development, Launch It

Merseyside Community Training

“Merseyside Community Training are absolutely delighted to have been awarded a Bursary Membership to join ERSA. With Youth Unemployment at an all- time high, having access to the wider stakeholder network will prove crucial to forming relationships which will be able to bolster our Youth Employment offer and increase the potential of positive destinations for our young people.”

Oli Sumner – CEO

Union Dance Trust

‘Looking forward to closely connecting with ERSA on supporting young people.’ 

Corrine Bougaard MA PGCERTS FRSA, Artistic Director & Producer, Cultural Consultant

Wigan Boys & Girls Club

Wigan Youth Zone was delighted to receive a Bursary Membership with ERSA. As restrictions ease and we begin to remobilise our universal youth work services the resources, networks and opportunities available through ERSA will help us to increase the confidence and employability of many young people in need”


Reform Radio CIC

Naturally Talented Me

Evolve Apprentices

Impact People & Change

Wellies 2 Work Software

OMG Education

A Vision for Empowerment CIC


Generation Success

Community Training and Employment Project

CTEP has a history of working with young people who are NEET with offending background, we support them with training, counselling, mentoring and coaching to achieve employment outcome. We delivered the Flexible support fund contract several times with DWP in collaboration with the job centre.

DiVA Apprenticeships

Thurmaston Educational Trust

Some of the organisations joined us recently at the Youth Employment: Good Work and Opportunities for All virtual event on 22 April 2021 and you can watch the virtual roundtable on demand here.

Further information on ERSA’s Youth Employment Activity


Impetus to close the Youth Jobs Gap

Young People sitting on wall picture

Impetus share groundbreaking collection of reports investigating the link between education and employment outcomes.

Before COVID-19 hit, Impetus’ Youth Jobs Gap series had measured the gap in employment outcomes between young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and their better-off peers. The findings were stark – disadvantaged young people are twice as likely to not be in education, employment or training (NEET). COVID-19 will only exacerbate this gap.

At this time, when young people have been hardest hit in the labour market by the COVID-19 pandemic, this data offers a vital picture of the situation for young people who are NEET.

The findings have important implications for delivery organisations, funders, and policymakers.

  • Finding 1: Young people with better qualifications are much less likely to be NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training)
  • Finding 2: Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are 50% more likely to be NEET than their similarly qualified but better-off peers
  • Finding 3: The variation between different local authorities within a region are much bigger than the variation between different regions
  • Finding 4: Three quarters of NEET young people have been NEET for at least 12 months
  • Finding 5: LEO data enables us to measure the success of interventions

Read more about the findings and access the policy reports. 

Read more and access the dashboards here


Open letter to chancellor requesting extension to kickstart

Elizabeth taylor headshot.jpg

An open letter citing the need for an extension to the Kickstart youth employability scheme has been signed by leading members of sector trade body ERSA. The statement, published below, calls on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to extend the programme to December 2022.

ERSA comprises hundreds of organisations tasked with delivering services to Kickstart participants. Almost 800 people from more than 470 organisations contribute to ERSA’s Kickstart Forum.

The letter, in full, reads as follows:

Dear Chancellor,

On 8th July 2020 you announced that “a new £2 billion Kickstart Scheme will be launched to create hundreds of thousands of new, fully subsidised jobs for young people across the country.” This came as a welcome investment by all of us in the employment support sector, we know the value and importance of creating new jobs for young people at a time when jobs are hard to come by.

On 2nd September 2020, the Department for Work and Pensions launched the scheme.

On 4th September ERSA launched the Kickstart Forum, a community of good practice of employment support organisations who are now Kickstart Gateways, employers, and provide wrap around support to achieve positive long-term outcomes. 796 people from 472 organisations participate in the ERSA Kickstart Forum with an ongoing collaborative online “chat” sharing good practice and problem solving. The ERSA Forum has worked with the DWP, with the department’s policy and Kickstart implementation leads attending ERSA Forums. This is the Kickstart collaboration that responded to Kickstart immediately and continues to do so. The forum members have achieved results and successes, but there is so much more we could do to contribute to launching young people’s careers.

This is why the ERSA Kickstart Forum supports the call from the Youth Employment Group for an extension to Kickstart. To reinforce our message of support we would like to share our experience of working to make Kickstart a success.

Kickstart is one of the largest employment programmes in recent history and it has been launched during an economic and health crisis. There have been real challenges rolling out the scheme in the expected timeframe and restrictions on businesses that have delayed opportunities getting to young people. It is because of these circumstances, and a firm belief in the potential of the scheme to transform lives and drive business recovery, that we are calling for you to extend Kickstart to December 2022.

Delays in implementing the scheme and ongoing restrictions on the economy due to Covid has resulted in Kickstart roles being approved later than expected, jobs being advertised later, and employees starting work through Kickstart later. The scheme is already four months behind schedule, and with both Covid restrictions and implementation challenges an extension to the scheme will ensure Kickstart is able to deliver the intended new jobs.

The employment support sector knows there is never a quick fix for those at the back of the queue. Research shows how the ‘recovery years’ are not experienced by all. Recessions are longer and deeper for young people. Kickstart needs to run throughout 2022 to get maximum value from the billions invested.

Businesses in the ERSA community of good practice are now filling the first vacancies – in February 2021. An extension to the end of 2022 will enable these Gateways to deliver the jobs they had planned for the lifetime of Kickstart. The first jobs started later than expected and the potential of Kickstart should not be restricted by an end in December 2021.

Kickstart has the potential to increase apprenticeship numbers by stimulating employer demand and opening-up access to previously disenfranchised young people. Several employers are commencing Kickstart placements in March 2021 with the aim of taking these young people into their September apprenticeship intake; extending Kickstart would enable this to happen twice and could help turn the tide on the lack of apprenticeships going to NEET young people.

More time is required to create strategic alignment with Government objectives. Thousands more new jobs are needed in key sectors which so far have not been able to respond to Kickstart at scale. More time for partnerships to develop could create, for instance, 1,000s of new jobs in the green economy, social care, and education. Kickstart can play a key role not only in the economic recovery, but also in other strategic objectives like Building Back Better, Levelling Up and the Green Industrial Revolution. The ERSA Forum has convened a smaller working group to support the development of these ideas and we ask for your support to enable this work to come to fruition.

It is because of the circumstances we have outlined, and a firm belief in the potential of the scheme to transform lives and drive business recovery, that we are calling for you to extend Kickstart to December 2022, in line with the YEG paper recently published here

Members of the ERSA Kickstart Forum, and the wider network of ERSA members have given their backing to this request and their signatures are appended to this letter.

Yours sincerely

Elizabeth Taylor, Chief Executive of ERSA

Please see the original article featured in FE News on 22 February 2020 including the appended list of signatories to the Chancellor here. 

The Kickstart Community Forum

Part of the Youth Employment Forum. This community forum brings together employers, gateways, change makers, commissioners and others interested in getting Kickstart right for young people. The ERSA Kickstart Community Forum meets monthly and you can find out more here. 


Call for organisations delivering pre-employment for under represented young people

Call for organisations delivering

The Prince’s Trust require organisations/consortia with a track record of delivering employment support to young people.

The organisations will have strong connections to the health and social care sector, or be employers in the sector, in order to secure the experiences and job opportunities for young people to move into. The organisations will deliver pre-employment support in partnership with The Prince’s Trust with job outcomes which will support under-represented groups in accessing employment within the health and social care sector.

The opportunity is split into two lots: 

Lot 1:
Proposals which will support 100 – 200 young people per year, to secure and sustain work in the healthcare sector.

Lot 2: Proposals which will support 200+ young people per year, to secure and sustain work in the healthcare sector. 

To access this competition: 

Login to and view the opportunity CA8549.

Not registered:
Visit then register and quote CA8549 as the reason for registration. 

Any queries please contact MultiQuote on 0151 482 9230.