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Care Leavers in the workplace report published

26 Oct 2020

Leicestershire Cares has today published the findings of short research project on the views of care experienced people amongst businesses in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.

Employees of local businesses were asked to complete a survey exploring their views of care experienced people in the workplace, how young people’s experience of the care system may affect their experience of work, and their understanding of the support care leavers may need in the workplace.

The report follows on from the work Leicestershire Cares has been delivering with its Promise to Care initiative - a pledge local businesses can sign to say that they will support care experienced people.

In total, 51 survey responses were received from people that work across a range of industries and sectors in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.

Our findings:

Businesses in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland were generally positive and sympathetic towards care leavers.

There was a broad understanding that the experience of being in care creates considerable challenges for young people, and that these are the result of systemic failure, rather than the actions of looked after children and care leavers. In addition, businesses felt that being care experienced did not equate to low aspirations in the workplace.

Businesses need support to fully understand the challenges that care leavers may face and how that can impact on career prospects.

For example, there was an understanding that care experienced people will likely experience poor mental wellbeing, may have low resilience and lack extra support to achieve positive outcomes, yet half of businesses felt that being in care would not impact care leavers’ experience of work.

A strong willingness amongst local businesses to support care experienced people in the workplace

Businesses felt that supporting care experienced young people was a positive way of investing in the local community. Leicestershire Cares’ Promise to Care initiative, a pledge for businesses to sign to say that they would support care experienced people into employment, was supported by a large percentage of people surveyed, and all respondents said they would be happy to mentor or buddy a new colleague who was care experienced. There was also an appetite for training to learn more about care experienced people and how businesses could better support them.

Next steps

Below are some key actions that Leicestershire Cares will take following the findings of our survey.

We will:

  • use the feedback from local businesses to further develop our support for care leavers looking for work, particularly around disclosing their care experience to potential employers.
  • work with our care experienced young people to develop a set of resources and training for businesses to improve understanding of care leavers’ experiences and support needs, including:
  1. video case studies
  2. a short online training module on why it is important to support care experienced people in the workplace, and effective ways to do this
  3. top tips and guides on recruiting and supporting care experienced people in work
  • bring our businesses and care leavers together to present a more positive view of care experienced people to employers, highlighting their skills and competencies as opposed to the challenges they typically face.
  • further roll-out the Promise to Care and encourage more businesses to pledge their support in enabling care leavers to access good quality and meaningful work.

Why do attitudes towards care experienced young people in the workplace matter?

Care experienced young people often do not have the social and family networks that can open doors to the workplace. In addition, while care leavers are entitled to statutory support up to the age of 25, their workers have increasingly large workloads which requires them to triage their cases and focus on those most in need. Consequently, many care experienced young people feel that they are left to fend for themselves once they leave care at the age of 16, 17 or 18.

These young people are the children of the state, and as such there is an argument that everyone has a role to play in supporting these young people to succeed and achieve their potential. This includes local authorities, statutory services, schools and education providers, and local voluntary and community organisations. Businesses have a huge role to play in this; meaningful employment and a stable income can enable care experienced young people to overcome many of the other challenges they face in their wider lives.

Exploring attitudes towards care experienced people in the workplace is therefore important in enabling businesses to understand how they can support this group and the help they need to do this. Having an understanding of the multiple and complex issues that impact on a young person in care and how those issues may follow them throughout life could reduce the stigma surrounding care experienced people. It could also break down some of the challenges and barriers that they face in gaining employment if businesses were more aware of their situation. In turn, this will improve the support available for care experienced people to access good quality employment and enable us to start improving outcomes for young people who have been through the care system.

This report demonstrates that there is a clear support and willingness to understand the issues that care experienced people face in life and the workplace. There is more work needed to highlight some of the lesser known issues that care experienced people have to deal with, which could help their colleagues and workplaces understand them more and support them to settle in and do well. Businesses play a vital role in enabling their local communities to thrive and they need to take a lead in developing, investing in and supporting local people to gain meaningful work. Supporting care experienced people is a key part of this role.

Download the Care Leavers in the workplace report