Why a ‘Big Conversation’ can help tackle youth unemployment in Greater Manchester

January 26 2017

Over one hundred businesses, employees and young people met at an inspiring event held at People’s History Museum on 24th January.

The Big Conversation event gave young people the unique opportunity to meet employers in an informal environment with both groups being offered the chance to share their experiences. In these conversations employers provided advice on training opportunities, volunteering and routes into employment.


The event was hosted by Greater Manchester Talent Match, a Big Lottery-funded programme offering one-to-one, long-term support to young people to shape journeys towards employment.

The Big Conversation aimed to dispel myths and break down any stereotypes and assumptions that young people and employers may have had about each other.

Employers used their personal and professional experience to provide information about what employment options there are in Greater Manchester and how to access them.

Sara Isherwood, 20, from Shaw has autism and attended the event to find out more about the kind of jobs she would be suited to. She said: “I’ve been chatting with Sonya from Business in the Community, who’s been really helpful. It’s so difficult when you’re looking for work but keep on finding things in your way. Speaking to Sonya, we found that we shared a lot of the same interests and traits. She gave me some suggestions on the types of jobs I might want to go for and what I’d be good at. It’s been a really good day”.

Entertainment was provided by young performers from Contact Theatre’s Creative Experts, who recorded some of the conversations held between employers and young people through their performances.

The event was a great success, with new links made between employers and young people.


Eloise Sochanik is the CSR Manager at Horwich Farrelly, a leading provider of legal and handling services to the UK general insurance claims sector, said: “We came along because we know there is a gap between the ways that young people and employers approach recruitment and employment and we want to change that. Having been involved with Talent Match since 2015, it was incredible to hear some really inspiring success stories from the young people the programme has supported.  We will continue to be involved with Talent Match as much as possible as we really believe in the programme’s ability to affect change”

Grace Mehanna, Youth Employment Campaign Director at Business in the Community, a guest speaker at the event, presenting on the Future Proof Campaign, backed by the City & Guilds Group  said:From unnecessary work experience requirements to a lack of transparency in recruitment, we know that there are significant structural barriers to work for young people. When we surveyed 4,000 young people, we found that one in three found the process of applying for jobs difficult. This needs to change. Work is changing, young people are entering the job market and employers need to catch up. We can’t just solve this by changing young people, it’s about changing businesses’ approach to recruitment.Over the next year, Business in the Community, the City & Guilds Group and Greater Manchester Talent Match, will be working local employers to make Greater Manchester the leading place for young people to work. Today’s event is an important part of us bringing together employers and young people to achieve this vision.”