Public Sector Enrichment Programme for Young People

Proposal: To create a national one-year Enrichment Programme for young people to work in the public sector, in a similar vein to one-year military services in other countries or as a work experience expansion to the already existing National Citizens Service.

Aim: To provide additional resource to the public sector by giving young people valuable work experience, therefore relieving some of the burden on our already stretched public services.

I propose a one-year Enrichment Programme where young people can work in public sector organisations to gain valuable experience and an appreciation and understanding of what our public services offer. Aimed at those between 18-24, roles could include operational, policy or delivery roles in local council or other government bodies, teaching assistant roles in schools or administrative roles at hospitals. This differs from shorter-term work experience like summer internships as the year allows young people to gain a fuller understanding of the workplace and enough time to make an impact.

Private companies could also participate if they align with improving public life such as if they are achieving sustainability thresholds, are located away from urban centres and therefore contributing to the Levelling Up agenda, or in industries that work in research & development, particularly those that support establishing the UK as a science superpower.

35% of job postings for entry-level candidates on LinkedIn ask for years of prior work experience, making it difficult to start a career and become financially independent without it. This would give young people an opportunity to get a foot in the door, get paid work and would relieve the job shortage the country has faced since the pandemic and Brexit.

This would improve life in the UK as public services would run more smoothly with the additional resource and it would give young people a chance to see first-hand the core functions public life such as the medical space, education or transport. Young people could work in the public sector early in their career and see how their local government works, how hospitals are run, and how to utilise the many initiatives that they may otherwise not know about. The nature of the roles would also give young people a greater sense of civic duty and an insight into local issues and how to solve them.

The Public Services Committee published a report in 2022 outlining issues the challenges facing the pubic service workforce, including limiting traditional routes for entry, “intense pressure” and discrimination faced by public sector workers, and difficulty retaining talent. By being widely available to every young person, this Enrichment Programme would encourage workplaces to accept people from a range of backgrounds and give young people the chance to work somewhere they might not have considered or had the opportunity to enter, thus making a public sector career more accessible.