UK Youth and KFC launch Hatch employability programme in Liverpool and Essex

16 June 2024

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UK Youth and fast-food giant KFC have extended their youth employability programme to youngsters in Liverpool and Essex.

Hatch aims to help young people aged 16-24 who have faced barriers to employment, to build their work skills, confidence and land their first job.

The roll-out comes as research reveals a lack of opportunities and support available in the North West and South East.

The programme offers one-to-one training, support, and practical work experience, with an interview at KFC upon graduation. The Hatch programme has previously been rolled out across Manchester in 2022, as well as Scotland and Birmingham in 2023. Recent figures show that from October-December 2023, there were 851,000 young people not in education, employment or training – a 2.5 per cent increase on the previous year, highlighting the need for youth employability programmes.

Participations of a past Hatch scheme celebrate their graduation.

Data from KFC UK and Ireland and UK Youth also lays bare the stark impact the cost-of-living crisis has had on young people’s employment outlook in Essex and the North West.

Two in three young people, 66 per cent, in the North West and South East say they face more barriers to work than in the past, while a third of employers, 32 per cent, say they do not have enough time to focus on helping young people develop their workplace skills. More than a third, 35 per cent, of employers in the South East admit they do not even offer work experience opportunities for young people.

The research also illustrates the impact the cost-of-living crisis is having on young people’s confidence and longer-term employment outlook.

One in four, 24 per cent, young people in the North West are not confident about their job prospects in the next five years, with almost a third, 29 per cent, feeling their current skillset will not land them a job during that period.

In the South East, almost one in four, 22 per cent, do not believe their current studies will help them get a job in the future, with more than a quarter, 27 per cent, feeling nervous about their job prospects over the next five years. This rises to nearly a third, 28 per cent, of all young people in the South East feeling anxious about the future in general.

There was plenty of KFC food for the graduates.
Graduates of a past successful Hatch scheme tuck into some free KFC food.

While there is a desire among employers in the North West, 86 per cent, and South East, 77 per cent, to help young people access jobs, the macroeconomic environment means hiring young people has taken a backseat to other priorities. More than a quarter, 26 per cent, in the South East and almost a quarter in the North West, 22 per cent, say a lack of capital is the main barrier preventing them from helping young people develop their workplace skills, with the majority of employers in the North West, 86 per cent, and South East, 80 per cent, saying the government needs to do more to support young people moving forwards.

To help reduce the barriers young people face, KFC and UK Youth are calling on government to work more closely with businesses to ensure young people are being equipped with the skills that will help them thrive in the workplace.

They are also calling for a joined-up strategy that brings together businesses with local authorities, job centres and youth work organisations to better connect young people with job and training opportunities in their local area.

There is an abundance of talent throughout the UK, but too often, young people are denied the chance to access employment opportunities.

Meg Farren, KFC UK&I general manager

Meg Farren, KFC UK&I general manager, said: “Young people today are grappling with unprecedented challenges. They face the ongoing impact of the cost-of-living crisis and an unstable economy, making it that much harder to secure their first job. As one of the largest youth employers in the country, we know the struggles young people are up against when it comes to developing the skills and experience necessary to enter the workforce. Our research shows how the current economic situation is exacerbating these difficulties for young people.

“There is an abundance of talent throughout the UK, but too often, young people are denied the chance to access employment opportunities. This must change. That’s why we’re extending our employability programme, Hatch, to Liverpool and Essex. In collaboration with UK Youth, Hatch will assist young people in these areas in developing their skills, boosting their confidence, and securing their first job.”

Photo of Ndidi Okezie OBE, UK Youth chief executive officer smiling.
Ndidi Okezie OBE, UK Youth chief executive officer.

Ndidi Okezie, UK Youth chief executive officer, said: “The ongoing effects of the pandemic, combined with the current cost-of-living crisis, are harming the job prospects of young people. We must pay attention to the concerns of the next generation as they look to enter the workforce — their success is essential for the economic and overall prosperity of the UK.

“The Hatch programme has already supported so many young people across Manchester, Scotland and Birmingham and we’re proud to be teaming up with KFC once again to help disadvantaged young people in Liverpool and Essex develop the confidence and skills necessary to find stable employment”.

Alina Ionescu, Soul Foods Group regional training leader, said: “The positive impact of the Hatch programme in our Blackburn restaurant has been brilliant to see. Young people are a vital part of our workplace and we’re proud to be supporting them in Liverpool and Essex to help kickstart their career, at a time when the odds are often stacked against them.

“We’ve seen firsthand that the qualities young people bring into the restaurant are invaluable and unique. It’s vital we keep bringing more young people onto the programme to help them gain skills and experience as they enter the world of work.

Ryan Sinnott, a participant of the Hatch programme in Liverpool: “I’ve faced so many challenges in my hunt for a job. There’s a lack of opportunity for young people across the board, and if you don’t have a certain set of qualifications, you’re even less likely to get employed. I’ve had setbacks along the way and the cost-of-living crisis has only made things worse.

“However, my experience on the Hatch programme has been incredibly positive. It’s given me opportunities that weren’t available previously – helping me develop my skills and grow my confidence. It’s been an enjoyable introduction to working life and I’ve loved meeting so many brilliant KFC colleagues throughout my training.”

Ryan Sinnott, right, with James, manager of KFC’s Great Homer Street branch in Liverpool, where Ryan has been working.

Ewan McKenzie, a participant of the Hatch programme in Essex, said: “There aren’t many opportunities out there for young people; and even when there are roles available, employers are often looking for people who have already developed skills in a certain sector. A combination of this, and a lack of interview experience, has made getting my first job a real challenge.

“Despite this, the Hatch programme has helped me to learn so many important life skills that I will be able to apply throughout my career. The programme has given me a sense of social and financial independence – which will help me immensely, as I look ahead to studying engineering at college.”

Since piloting Hatch in Manchester in 2022, 497 young people have successfully graduated from the programme.

Starting in June, The Kentucky Club, an inclusive members club for 16-24-year-olds from all backgrounds, designed to support young people’s professional and personal development, will be hosting free career-boosting workshops for young people, featuring employability, creativity and digital skills training provided by Bauer Academy.

Young people at the launch of KFC’s The Kentucky Club in Birmingham in 2023.

About UK Youth

UK Youth is a leading charity with a vision that all young people are equipped to thrive and empowered to contribute at every stage of their lives. With an open network of more than 8,000 youth organisations and nation partners; UK Youth reaches more than four million young people across the UK and is focused on unlocking youth work as the catalyst of change that is needed now more than ever. To find out more, visit ukyouth.org 

UK Youth is involved in a range of programmes designed to help young people thrive, such as outdoor learning, physical literacy, social action and employability, including Hatch, a youth employability programme run in partnership with KFC. For more on UK Youth’s programmes, see ukyouth.org/what-we-do/programmes

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