Thoughts, stories and events to share

Tackling Youth Unemployment

Sophie O'Sullivan, about 4 years ago

Talent Match is a National Lottery funded Programme. It was launched in 2014 and supports young people aged 17-29 who have been out of work, training or education for at least 6 months, to move closer to employment.

BC Talent Match is an intensive mentoring service that helps connect fresh talent to employers who stand by the investment of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The 5-year project (which has now been extended for a further 3 years) helps those who face significant barriers to employment, such as carers, care leavers, those with physical or mental ill health, those who have been left without a home, etc. Two thirds of young people supported by Talent Match Black Country have criminal justice experience. This cohort is the furthest away from being work ready.

It is vital that projects like Talent Match are put in place to level the playing field into the workplace. This ensures that candidates from all backgrounds have access to employment opportunities from a diverse range of sectors.

BC Talent Match aims to challenge the negative perceptions of unemployed young adults, shifting the focus from past experience, onto their talent and future potential. Partnership is at the core of everything BC Talent Match does as they work will forward-thinking employers and third sector organisations who specialise in inclusive practice.

BC Talent Match empower young people through a mentoring scheme, which enables them to co-design tailored support so that they take the lead in their own personal and professional development. This person-centred approach means that they actively control the decision-making every step of the way.

Young people will benefit from additional job and employment focused support from Job Coaches. Working alongside the mentors, Job Coaches continue to work with both the young person and their employer once employment is secured to oversee the transition period.

It is entirely led by young people. They form our steering group and guide our direction.

-Emma Searle, Business Engagement Advisor, BC Talent Match

From April 2019, for a further three years, BC Talent Match aim to support 600 young people from an offending background, in addition to 397 17-29 year olds who have multiple barriers moving into employment.

Young people in the criminal justice system have experienced sustained trauma, financial difficulties, local authority care, exclusion from school, drug or alcohol related dependences, poor mental health, abuse and bereavement. Having gone through this, it is remarkable that these young people have the resilience to pick themselves back up and start again.

With the right support, they can find a way out of a life of crime, access 'safe places' and begin to rebuild their lives. What they need the most to turn away from reoffending is basic necessities that we may otherwise take for granted; things like accommodation, education and training, friends, hobbies, therapy and, most importantly, a sustainable job.

BC Talent Match has had an incredible impact on the community thus far. Of the 358 young adults surveyed 72% applied for a job, 30% went into work and 32% sustained job outcomes.

Young People Supported by Talent Match

Case Studies:


Omari spent a 22-month sentence in prison. Incredibly, with the support of Talent Match, he turned his life around. Omari commends his mentor for helping him create a step-by-step path towards his goals, which helped to enhance his confidence and determination to join the working world.

Impressively, Omari is now a public speaker and has opened his own tea room and catering company. His entrepreneurial spirit has enabled him to create multiple income streams.

Omari's key goal for the future is to help those who have a similar background to himself.

Talent Match has helped me to gain confidence to do what I am doing now.

-Omari, BC Talent Match


Similarly, Michael had criminal justice experience. He was conscious that a criminal conviction may act as a barrier to employment and so consulted BC Talent Match for additional support.

He is a self-employed tattoo artist and is currently doing mentor training.

Michael's future aspiration is to be a mentor for young offenders or young adults who are at risk of offending. He wants to use his experience in a positive way by investing in other young people and helping them make better choices.


Billy, an ex-offender, was referred to BC Talent Match by the police following a further arrest. He left school with no qualifications and had not been in education or training for 30 months.

With support from BC Talent Match, he gained retail work experience, as well as further training to improve his literacy, numeracy and customer service skills. He has now gone from strength to strength, securing full-time employment.

*Name changed for safeguarding purposes

Employer Case Studies

The Mount Hotel, Wolverhampton

The Mount is an award-winning luxury hotel in Wolverhampton.

They gave an opportunity for a young man from an offending background. From their first meeting, it was obvious that he had a passion for culinary pursuits and a desire to start his own business in the future. The Mount are very pleased to have him as part of their team.

We took him on and what a breath of fresh air he was, passionate, punctual, hardworking, well-mannered and he became such a great team member we took him on full time. He was very honest about his intentions and used this opportunity as a stepping stone which again was fantastic to see to go on to a better future.

-Carlo Petza, The Mount Hotel

Midland Metro Alliance

The Midland Metro Alliance is an expansion project that aims to triple the size of the Metro network by 2026. Within the rail and construction industries, employers are more progressive in their approach to recruitment. The Midland Metro Alliance is no different and have taken on two candidates from BC Talent Match.

We would definitely recommend other employers to engage with the programme. Having worked with Black Country Talent Match over the last 4 years I can highly recommend them to other employers and to young people who would bene t from additional support. Everyone who works at Talent Match is passionate about helping young people achieve their potential. Many young people they work with have chaotic backgrounds with multiple barriers to employment – some are homeless, have no families, no-one to advise and guide them through life at a very vulnerable young age. Young people should be able to learn, have fun with friends and be excited about their future, not be lonely, scared or worried about being exploited. BCTM helps them to be safe and secure and gives them confidence to move forward with their lives.

-Rose Rees, Skills and Inclusion Lead

The combined story of both the ex-offenders and businesses finding what they need in unexpected places is rarely told. Here at The Exceptionals, we shine a light on forward-thinking employers who open up their recruitment to include those with a conviction and therefore benefit from the outstanding talent that is waiting to be released and harnessed in a positive manner.

If you are an employer in the West Midlands who would like to get in touch with BC Talent Match and start offering young people new, exciting job opportunities, please do contact them directly through their website or via our directory.