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Posted on 31 May 2024

New research aims to help young people ‘rise up’ out of unemployment

The first phase of an innovative research project, which aims to help young people in Burnley out of unemployment, has now been completed. More than 700 young people got involved to set the agenda for better access to local employment.

Funded by the Youth Futures Foundation, the ‘Connected Futures Project’ has been identifying barriers causing unemployment in and around Burnley.

The aim is to create pathways to sustainable opportunities for young people, specifically focusing on those who may be more disadvantaged. The research includes young people leaving care, those with Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage, and the long term underemployed.

Sam Haworth, Head of Social Impact for Calico Enterprise, which is co-ordinating the Connected Futures project in Burnley, said: “Young people are so critical to the success and future of our town. However, not every young person gets the same opportunity. We’re here to raise awareness of that and help every young person get the opportunities they deserve.”

Ensuring young people’s voices are heard

What makes this research unique is hearing directly from young people themselves, instead of using the opinions and views of adults to assume what young people want.

As a group, young people often feel like they don’t have a voice. This project has given them a platform to share their concerns, ideas and thoughts on their futures. Many also discuss what they think is holding them back from finding fulfilling employment.

With the support of Participation Works, University of Central Lancashire and other local partners, Burnley’s Connected Futures project has built up a network of young people from different backgrounds, forming a youth leadership group called ‘Rise Up’.

The first phase of research ran for around 18 months, with 700 young people taking the time out to help. From workshop groups to listening sessions and attending events, young people got to express their opinions on work opportunities in their town.

Habiba, a member of the youth leadership group, said: “As a young Bangladeshi woman, I have been through many struggles. This project has highlighted, understood and provided advice for me, especially around job seeking. I hope this project will reach many more young people to help highlight their difficulties and open opportunities in the future.”

Using this research to build brighter futures

Alarmingly, over 90% of young people asked wanted to leave Burnley. Reasons for them wanting to find greener pastures included a lack of opportunity, boredom and poverty.

After taking a look at the findings from the last 18 months, the proposal is to expand on the town’s ‘Thrive’ model. This will hopefully improve and create new pathways within the youth employment system.

Meanwhile, in the long-term, the aim is to get more young people to stay in Burnley.

Ben, another member of ‘Rise Up’, added: “I’ve been with the project since the beginning. It has been really nice to see the different recurring issues and ideas that are popping up from all the sessions and workshops that have taken place”.

How Calico Enterprise will help young people ‘Thrive’ in Burnley

The Thrive partnership has been operating since 2021. Featuring a strong operational commitment to young people, the Thrive brand has now been developed into these three strands.

Thrive in the Community

Young people need safe spaces to go in the community where they can access inclusive support and activities. That’s why the next phase of testing will deliver a range of outreach services at community venues. This will include the town centre and market.

These will be scheduled sessions, delivered by both professionals and young people. They will provide a variety of activities to support young people and their families.

Thrive in Employment

In-work support for employers and young people will be tested. They will be provided with practical support, budgeting, supervision, and mentoring. Role-modelling will also be tested to increase the connections between young people and the career pathways available to them.

The project will also raise awareness of vacancies through the Thrive youth hub, reaching young people who job centres might not.

Thrive in Education

Young people have said that they want better support and careers advice in the education system.

Following this, a plan will be created around how schools and students are supported. This aims to prevent youth unemployment and improve career pathways. This will be tested by further developing the emerging partnership with education leaders, and by building a Bondholder & Business Education Partnership (BEP).

Three secondary schools have indicated that they would like our support. Working with each school, we will test a work experience-based curriculum for students in year 10 and 11 who are struggling in education.

How Calico is helping young people get into work

Calico Enterprise isn’t just helping young people through Thrive either. As a partner of the UK Year of Service, The Calico Group are currently providing a range of 9-month paid work experience placements across the group. More than 20 positions were created, offering individuals aged 18-24 a vital opportunity to get into work.

Read more about our UK Year of Service scheme here.

Summing up phase one of research, Sam added: “Everyone deserves a bright future, but some need a little more help than others. As employers and members of the community, we have a responsibility to hear from them, support them and do something about it. We want to make sure that those who don’t have the opportunity or ability are picked up”.

To learn more about phase one of the research and the next steps, please contact Sam Haworth on

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Tel: 01282 686516


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