Work and Skills

More than 1,000 people have accessed programme to help them get on after feeling impact of Covid

ESF Logo

  • The ESF NEET and Youth Employment Programme has supported more than 1,000 young people who have been negatively impacted by Covid
  • Young Ukrainian refugee and musician among those receiving support from programme
  • Greater Manchester leaders urge young people aged 15-24 to explore the engagement and mentoring programme and find out how it can help them get on in life and move into a positive destination

MORE than 1,000 young people aged 15 to 24 in Greater Manchester have benefited from bespoke engagement and mentoring support to help them get on in life, to improve their mental wellbeing and move into a positive destination.

Greater Manchester’s ESF NEET and Youth Employment Programme (not in education, employment or training) launched in January 2022 and is targeted at young people who have been most impacted by Covid. Young people on the programme receive bespoke wraparound advice, guidance and mentoring tailored to their individual needs and situation

The programme was created after many young people in the city-region were negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic through missing education, losing employment, experiencing poor mental health and facing barriers to moving into a positive destination. It has also supported young refugees living in the city-region, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Partners Career Connect and Ingeus were awarded £5m respectively from the European Social Fund to deliver the programme, with the aim to reach 6,000 young people by September 2023. Career Connect is supporting young people aged between 15 to 19, while Ingeus is working with young adults between 18 and 24 years.

Young people who have been supported on the programme have spoken about how it has benefitted their career prospects and are encouraging others to get involved, including a 21-year-old refugee from Ukraine.

When Sofiya* arrived in Manchester after fleeing Ukraine she was concerned about how to find a job, as well as how she could continue developing her career as a musician and singer. The FutureYou programme, delivered by Ingeus, proved to be a valuable lifeline.

Sofiya was given support with the help of FutureYou mentor James and was put in touch with a project being ran by radio station and arts organisation Reform Radio. A track she worked on was aired live on the radio at the end of the two-week project, which helped to build up confidence. She has since gained a full-time job to help with her finances as she continues to develop her role in the music industry.

Sofiya said: “I loved everything in the courses with Reform. James is lovely and it was really nice to talk to him, he gave me some good advice. He was checking in on me every week which was really cool, asking how I was doing.”

Brandon Tustin, 18, from Bolton has also recently completed a traineeship with support from Connect To Your Future (CTYF) and will be starting an apprenticeship in September.

Brandon Tustin

He said: “After leaving college early, as I was not enjoying it and felt I was on the wrong path, I visited Connexions in Bolton and found out about CTYF. I met my adviser who supported me to identify my interests and future goals. I was then given information on how to pursue my journey and was referred onto a Traineeship where I gained valuable work experience which has increased my confidence and given me skills which have enabled me to be successful in gaining an apprenticeship which I start in September this year.

“I would most definitely recommend the CTYF Project to other young people, especially people who are unsure of their career interests.

“My plans for the future are to start my apprenticeship in September, complete the qualification attached and go onto to the next level all the while gaining even more skills and growing in confidence.”

Councillor Eamonn O’Brien, GMCA Portfolio Lead for Education, Skills, Work, Apprenticeships and Digital, said: “Reaching the 1,000 participants milestone is a great achievement for the ESF NEET and Youth Employment Programme. We know the Covid-19 pandemic has caused significant disruption to the lives of young people in our city-region, and it is our job to ensure they are being given support to achieve their career ambitions.

“The programme has worked as a catalyst for some young people, building confidence, identifying future goals and aspirations and empowering them to take the first step on the career ladder and we want to reach even more young people in Greater Manchester. I urge young people, parents and carers, as well as support services and people working with young people aged 15-24, to please get involved with the programme and reap all the benefits that come with it.”

Joanne Roney, Greater Manchester’s chief executive lead for skills and apprenticeships added: “Greater Manchester’s NEET and Youth Employment programme has been developed to give a boost to young people in our city-region who have been negatively impacted by Covid and need additional guidance or support to explore their next steps into employment, education or training. The programme brings together a variety of skilled partners who have the ability to provide specialist advice and guidance, ensuring our young people get the best possible support to get on in life.”

Greater Manchester is committed to supporting young people and those interested in finding out about apprenticeships and further education opportunities are urged to visit the GMACS platform.

The GMACS tool forms part of the strong commitment from Greater Manchester’s Mayor for young people to find support and information, making sure they have the best advice and resources along with free travel from Our Pass (Homepage - Our Pass) to access a wide range of experiences and opportunities in Greater Manchester.

For anyone interested in getting involved with the ESF programme please visit and to find out more.

*Sofiya’s name has been changed to protect her identity

Article Published: 21/09/2022 14:43 PM