YMCA Scotland enters partnership for better youth employability

Date: 15 August 2019

YMCA Scotland has formed a partnership with behavioural science consultancy Esher House to fine-tune its employability mentoring programme.

The programme, which supports young people aged 16-25 engaged in short-term employment training, is applying the latest research in behavioural science, or nudge theory, in an effort to help more young people into work.

Colin MacFarlanne, National Programme Manager at YMCA Scotland, said:

“When it comes to employability, we know that one-size-fits-all approaches are ineffective. The behavioural science model we’ve implemented allows us to tailor our mentoring to each individual.

It’s psychological and behavioural factors that prevent young people from moving into and staying in employment. With the Esher House assessment, we can quickly and accurately identify these challenges. We then follow this up with a range of behavioural science interventions.” 

Alistair Hunter, Training and Business Development Lead at Esher House said:

“Nudge theory can seem like an abstract concept, but it’s actually more common sense than rocket science. Our model is established on evidence-based research on how people actually think and work rather than outdated conventional wisdom.

Our assessment tool helps us identify what interventions best serve the needs of each individual. The right support at the wrong time can often hinder a person’s progress, so it’s all about delivering well-timed, tailored support.

Developing resilience is an essential part of what we do. We help people appraise their difficulties with a solution-focussed mindset.

One of the ways we do this is by developing skills like realistic optimism. With realistic optimism, we help people make an accurate assessment of the challenges in their work lives, and at the same time, they get to identify the strengths and resources they have to overcome these obstacles.

Our model has proven to significantly reduce attrition rates and improve work readiness.

As well as providing a robust assessment tool, we’ve delivered training workshops to YMCAs across Scotland on resilience building, strengths, and mindset.”

The YMCA Youthworks mentoring programme supports over 400 young people each year. Staff from all over Scotland have now gone through the behavioural science training.

Franny McGrath, Operations Manager at Perth YMCA said:
“Attending the Esher House training has given me a greater understanding of behavioural science and how we can best use these tools and assessments to support young people in our local communities. We are extremely excited to start implementing these methods into all areas of our work.”