Youth Employment Initiative

If you're aged 16 to 29, unemployed or not in education, the Youth Employment Initiative can help you

This programme has now closed


The Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) programme was funded by money from the European Social Fund (ESF) and, as part of the European Union (EU) Growth Strategy, was focussed on geographical areas with high levels of youth unemployment. The funding required organisations to work with unemployed or inactive 15- to 29-year-olds. The Tees Valley received YEI funding of around £50m between 2016 and 2023; a partnership of 18 organisations including all five Councils received £31.8m of that funding to deliver the YEI programme in each of the five local areas, this particular programme was called Pathways & Routeways. ESF provided the funding and contracted with the Tees Valley consortium to achieve a specific level of progressions into employment/learning, based on a formula that was used EU wide, ensuring value for money across all 28 countries. ESF also imposed strict rules about what evidence was needed to prove effective and efficient working.

EU Funding has ceased

The decision to leave the EU clearly meant an end to this stream of funding, and despite the UK leaving the EU in January 2020 a date of July 2023 was agreed as the final date of delivery for the programme. The programme has therefore now closed.

What did Pathways & Routeways achieve?

The 18-strong Tees Valley consortium achieved some very impressive outcomes. 11,783 young people started with Pathways and Routeways (106% of the target given); of those, 6,077 young people progressed against a target of 5,263 (115% of target). It should be noted that this was achieved alongside a 10% underspend of budget.

Across Redcar & Cleveland area the partners performed really well. Starts were above the Tees Valley average and 118% of target; Progressions were also well above the Tees Valley average and were 121% of target. Overall, the Redcar and Cleveland area was the 2nd best performing area in Tees Valley, behind Darlington who achieved some phenomenal Pathways results.

Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council were the biggest contract holder in the Redcar and Cleveland area. With a contract value over the 7-year period of £2,432,678 the Council’s YEI Team achieved 1,096 young people starting their programme (100% of target) and an impressive 602 progressed, against a target of 508 (118%). 65% of all of these progressions were into Employment.

Value for Money

Across the Tees Valley Pathways & Routeways consortium there was a £31,858,020 budget across the seven years of delivery. However, unfilled posts and the effects of restricted activity during Covid significantly added to a £3,172,153 underspend. The cost per outcome was well below what ESF expected and planned for.

The way forward

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund replaces previous EU funding. The current round of funding provided £46.3m across 2 years and this has been allocated to three themes: Communities and Place; Supporting Local Businesses; and People & Skills. The People & Skills element has been awarded £8.6m over a two-year period and from this £4.8m has been allotted to help increase employment levels in Tees Valley. The new programme is aimed at inactive residents who are aged 55+ (early retired); residents who are on long-and short-term sickness; and those who are inactive and disengaged from the benefit and support systems.

There is no substantial element of funding across Tees Valley to support young unemployed residents apart from the statutory service of the Jobcentre and a very small element of support through the Employment Hubs (e.g. Training & Employment Hub in Grangetown).