Council's behavioural insight campaign aims to cut 'neet' unemployment by half

Cutting youth unemployment by half is one of the ultimate goals of a comms project across Reading and West Berkshire.

Reading and West Berkshire hope to cut youth unemployment by half with their behavioural insight campaign (Pic credit: Geoff Robinson Photography/REX/Shutterstock)
Reading and West Berkshire hope to cut youth unemployment by half with their behavioural insight campaign (Pic credit: Geoff Robinson Photography/REX/Shutterstock)

Delving into the online behaviour of 16-24 year olds is a major part of the Elevate scheme, being run by Reading Borough Council and West Berkshire Council.

The local authorities have launched an online resource for young people, mapped out as a virtual city, which shares information about work opportunities, mentoring and apprenticeships, as well as CV and money advice.

Part of the City Deal initiative across Berkshire, which is funded by the European Social Fund, the aim is to reduce youth unemployment by 50 per cent within three years.

In an initial phase of work, which began last week and will run until December, the local authorities have tasked comms consultancy Foco with mapping how the area’s young people use social media in a bid to hone their engagement and PR activity.

A Reading Borough Council spokesperson told PR Week: "We need to better understand how to reach young people to offer any needed support. Young people increasingly live out their lives, make contacts, connect with people, look for jobs and opportunities via social media, and better understanding why and how they do this will enable us to broaden our reach."

He added there was a need to engage with a more diverse range of young people, especially those considered ‘hard to reach’ such as those not in employment, education or training (neet) and to support them around employment and skills to remove some of the barriers they have in getting into work.

"Behaviour change through human-centred story-telling" is the benefit of bringing in Foco to assist with the work, explained the spokesperson.

A spokesperson from West Berkshire Council's communications team said it was important to bring in external expertise for the work to be most effective: "The places adults engage in social media are very different to those of young people, Foco have expertise in this area." 

Foco is working on the initial phase of work with the social enterprise Projects with Purpose, which works with public and third sector bodies to improve outcomes for disadvantaged communities.

Foco co-founder John Shewell said success for the agency would be to uncover and understand what motivates young people in order to develop "actionable insights" that would allow the local authorities to more effectively engage with them.

In addition to reducing youth unemployment by 50 per cent in three years, the idea of the overarching scheme is to generate 1,300 new work opportunities for young people, including helping 800 people stay in a job for at least six months.

Other goals include reducing churn in the labour market, increasing the earnings of 450 young people by 10 per cent, adding 1,500 new work experience placements and creating 300 extra apprenticeships.

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