The Creative Society is an arts employment charity that helps young people into jobs in the creative and cultural industries.
Cross-party political interest in New Deal of the Mind has accelerated since the election says Martin Bright, CEO of New Deal of the Mind.
Earlier this month we were delighted to welcome shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Yvette Cooper to one of our training sessions for the young people we have put into jobs at Notting Hill Carnival. Ms Cooper was keen to talk to young people about their experiences of the Future Jobs Fund. We at NDotM have had our criticisms of the scheme (brought in last year by the Labour government as a response to the recession and abolished by the incoming coalition). But one thing that all the young people we talk to raise with us is that the scheme has helped break down the culture of free internships that deny access to the creative sector for so many young people. Increasingly, job applicants need experience even to get an unpaid internship. This situation cuts off whole areas of the professions to anyone who can’t afford to work for free. We can only hope that the new government’s Single Work Programme will address this issue, which has serious implications for social mobility, when it introduces it next year.
We were also invited to attend the launch of the Big Society Network at Number 10 Downing Street. The coalition has struggled to get traction for this idea beyond the world of “social enterprise” but it is clearly at the heart of David Cameron’s vision for his premiership. As a small charity already delivering in the public sector, we’d like to think New Deal of the Mind can contribute something to the conversation now happening about the Big Society. To my mind, this should not be a party political issue. The Co-operative movement (usually associated with the Labour Party) has been talking about Big Society-type ideas for the best part of a century. I was intrigued by Paul Twivy’s concept of Your Square Mile, “the UK’s biggest mutual organisation”, which would pool information about local community action and help provide groups who join with benefits such as cheap liability insurance and better access to public buildings.
This is not the time to set up ideological barriers. I genuinely hope some of these new ideas work. Mass unemployment is something this country simply can’t afford.