Employment Minister Priti Patel visited Fulham to see for herself how their vital community outreach work is helping to achieve the government’s goal of getting hard-to-reach jobseekers into work.Fulham Football Club Foundation and the DWP with support and funding from the Premier League have been working together to help the long-term unemployed and 16 to 25-year-olds not in education, employment or training (NEETS) build their employability skills and find permanent jobs.
The event, which was organised by The Football League Trust and hosted by Fulham at its ground, Craven Cottage, was designed to share best practice with other Football League clubs and partner organisations. Guests included representatives from Nottingham Forest, Blackburn Rovers and Charlton Athletic.
With 72 community trust’s in its network, The Football League Trust is already working with a number of clubs on employment initiatives, and encouraging others to follow Fulham’s example in supporting young people in this area.
Ryan Lock, who attended the Foundation’s My Future Goal scheme after finding out about it at his local Jobcentre Plus, explained how this had been instrumental in helping him fulfil his dream after he was offered a full-time position at Fulham Football Club Foundation.
Complementing these existing initiatives, The Football League Trust is about to launch a national 12-week traineeship programme to help jobseekers build their employability skills in a sports’ setting. This is currently being piloted in 12 clubs across England, with the aim of rolling it out to 40 clubs in 2016.
Employment Minister Priti Patel said: “Employment is at a record high, unemployment is at a seven-year low and wages are continuing to grow, but we are not stopping there.
“Football clubs are much-loved institutions in the heart of their communities and are ideally placed to help their local fans find lasting jobs.
“Our Jobcentres are teaming up with organisations like Fulham Football Club Foundation across the country to help people overcome barriers and move closer to employment.
“Now, I want to challenge more clubs to follow Fulham’s lead. That’s why I am supporting The Football League Trust’s push to get more clubs to develop traineeship programmes, and help us get more people into work.”
The DWP is contributing £30,000 to help Fulham Football Club Foundation continue its outreach work helping people into work.
The money, which came from the DWP’s Flexible Support Fund, is part-funding the Foundation’s Fulham Work Hub. This scheme is building on the work of My Future Goal, which for three years concentrated on helping NEETS aged 16 to 25 into work.
Fulham Work Hub, which kick-started in January, is enhancing that offer by helping older workers, lone parents and disabled jobseekers, as well as young people, the necessary skills they need to find work, after they’ve been referred by the Jobcentre Plus.
Fulham Football Club Foundation CEO, Steve Day, said: “Fulham Football Club Foundation is delighted to welcome to Craven Cottage the Employment Minister and guests from a number of football clubs, to showcase the success of our Employability programme.
The three-year programme ended last summer and provided exceptional results. Funds from the DWP will allow us to continue to work with local unemployed young people further and assist them in developing their employability skills for opportunities in education, employment or training in the future.”
Football League Trust Director of Operations, Mike Evans, said: “Our network of 72 football community trusts have a strong record in delivering education and employment initiatives over many years.
"The unique ability of football clubs to engage young people is a huge factor in this, but it requires professional organisations such as Fulham Football Club Foundation to inspire people to fulfil their potential.
“We are delighted the Minister has been able to join us today to see the fantastic work that Fulham are doing in this area, and help us to roll the programme out throughout The Football League Trust network.”