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Can local collective impact partnerships get more young Black men into quality jobs?

Author: Liz Mackie, Action for Race Equality Associate

Brent CIP (Gareth Pryce) and YFF (Lekan Ojumu)
Brent jobs fair, with partners of Moving on Up and the Mayor

We joint-fund Moving on Up, a programme led by Action for Race Equality to help more young Black men in London to find work. Here, associate Liz Mackie outlines what they've learned from testing a collective impact approach - and how this might be applicable to other programmes.

Young Black men are between two and four times more likely to be unemployed than young White men with the same level of qualifications. These disparities have not changed for as far back as can be measured. It was clear that previous employment interventions had not worked for young Black men.

We wanted to test whether a collective impact partnership approach could help to tackle the entrenched inequalities in employment outcomes for young Black men. This meant bringing together local stakeholders to work together, collaborating on a shared action plan and monitoring process to create impact. We developed and tested this approach in the London boroughs of Brent and Newham.

What we learned

This week, we are delighted to be publishing the final report from an independent evaluation of the Moving on Up collective impact partnerships. Moving on Up has been a 10 year initiative, running from 2014 to 2024, with the ambition of getting more young Black men into good quality jobs. Moving on Up was designed and managed by Action for Race Equality (ARE) with Trust for London and City Bridge Foundation.

The evaluation report looks at the final two years (2022-23) of the collective impact strand of the Moving on Up initiative, which was first developed from 2018. From the outset we wanted an expert evaluation of the potential for collective impact to improve employment outcomes for populations, like young Black men, experiencing persistently high unemployment rates. After six years of development and delivery we don’t have an unequivocal yes or no answer on this. Like much else in life, the Moving on Up collective impact partnerships were complicated, good in parts and messy in others.

We have learned a great deal from testing this innovative and ambitious approach. Here are three of the key lessons:

Local co-ordination is critical

It is not easy for young Black men to find the services that can support them into employment. Better local co-ordination helps all young people to find the right provider to meet their needs and aspirations. However, collective impact partnership was a more ambitious, complex and challenging model than could be successfully achieved within a four year period. We did well on shared ambition, and we probably did well on shared impact, but the challenges around shared measurement made that difficult to evaluate.

Don’t compromise on quality jobs

Moving on Up was strongly focused on securing good quality jobs for young Black men. The quality-jobs focus was not easy to maintain, particularly as we came through the pandemic lockdowns. But we are delighted that more than 80% of the young Black men who secured jobs were paid at London Living wage or above, and that many of these are in companies offering excellent career progression.

Ethnicity monitoring is essential

The evaluation report identifies the challenges Moving on Up experienced in collecting good quality monitoring data. The evaluation was additionally hindered by not being able to compare Moving on Up outcomes with other employment support programmes, as the collection and publication of ethnicity data is rare. This means we cannot evidence whether young Black men were more likely to secure good quality jobs through Moving on Up than through other routes.

Ethnicity data collection and publication by all agencies, including by JobCentre Plus, must become routine if we are to get a better understanding of what works to close the huge disparities in unemployment rates for young Black men.

ARE is taking these lessons, and more, into our continuing work to end racial disparities in employment for young people across the UK.

About Moving on Up

Moving on Up (MoU) helps more young Black men in London find work. The programme is jointly funded by Trust for London and City Bridge Trust, and delivered by Action for Race Equality. The Moving on Up programme officially launched in 2015. Until 2017, it focused on helping 250 young Black men find and secure jobs. Since then, it’s moved some of its attention onto employers and what they can do to get more young Black men into work. This has included testing a ‘collective impact approach’ - in other words, how organisations can come together to offer employment support services that meet the needs of young Black men. Find out more about Moving on Up.