Empowering Enterprise

1st July 2017 - 31st May 2023

Empowering Enterprise supported young people aged 18-24 who were NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) across Devon, Plymouth and Torbay. This project equiped them with skills for life and work, giving them the confidence to find a path to a brighter future. Managed by Petroc, Empowering Enterprise was delivered by a partnership of organisations with a wide range of expertise and experience in working with young people across the South West. This was a Building Better Opportunities (BBO) project funded by The National Lottery Community Fund and the European Social Fund. 

Throughout six years, a wealth of activities were delivered. 1072 young people were formally supported, with 215 of them having accessed education or training and 289 having entered employment as a direct result of this provision. These statistics only begin to scratch the surface of the phenomenal impact that this project has had on the lives of participating young people and their communities.

The significance of this work to support young people in our communities cannot be overstated, considering the recent and ongoing impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, and associated lockdowns, and cost-of-living difficulties on young people, employers and our wider communities.

DCT supported the partnership by leading on the project’s:
  • Impact Measurement
  • Employer and Community Engagement Strategy

Throughout the project DCT has produced regular impact reports which provided detailed summaries of the phenomenal impact that the partnership has delivered. Producing these reports enabled us to communicate areas of strength and areas for development to key organisations in the county and it is our hope that this work will serve, and offer insights to, the future activities of partnership organisations and wider stakeholders.

We also delivered a range of activities to engage employers across Devon to engage with the work of the project, with a focus on increasingly inclusive workplaces across the county, and supporting employers to better understand their role in dismantling the barriers that young NEETs face.

Additionally, we organised a series of group activities for young people with community based organisations and SME businesses across the county, for example with Cosmic, the Italian Cooking Association, or Dartmoor Zoo. These both aided young people to become comfortable in a group setting and helped free up time for mentors who knew the value of group sessions, but struggled to find time for the logistical challenges.

Case study: A Taste of the Workplace

Final Impact Report

Devon Communities together produced biannual evaluation reports of Empowering Enterprise as well as two final impact reports, one at the the end of the originally scheduled delivery timeframe in 2020, and one after a project extension in 2023.

Key findings

  • A total 1072 participant's went live on the project. 592 results were achieved by 530 participants, meaning 49.5% of participants exited with a formal result.
  • Distance Travelled Questionnaire scores, completed by 775 participants, reported an average of 11.4% positive change. These numbers only tell a small part of the life changing impact of the project on individual participant's lives.
  • The characteristics of the participants were complex and varied, often on a scale unanticipated by delivery partners. For example, 49% self-identified as disabled, 41% were from jobless household, and 30% did not have entry level Maths.
  • Core to the project's impact was the approach of mentors, who worked flexibly with each participant, fostering trust and understanding their individual needs. However, at times the level and complexity of participant needs was overwhelming for mentors, who needed close and supportive colleagues to manage and find solutions.
  • A key factor in the success of the project was the partnership approach which, with diverse and localised partners, provided a mix of local knowledge, specialisms, and geographical coverage whilst working with a joined up approach and sharing best practice and resources.
  • Existing support services were made more visible and accessible to young people and their communities, and were made more sustainable through direct involvement on participant level and by strategically influencing local networks. Mentors' ability to advocate on behalf of young people increased their access to services.
  • EE encouraged positive views of young people in wider society. With communities, employers and businesses influenced through participant placements, relationships with partners, and by sharing of training and strategic materials.
  • From project inception co-design with young people was a guiding principle, this was highly successful on a participant level in the development of personal development plans and group activities, including via Innovation Fund activities. Co-design on a strategic level was achieved through some dedicated co-design activities to inform employer engagement strategies, but could still have been further embedded.

The full report can be downloaded here.