The Family and Childcare Trust currently runs the Young Dads Collective (YDC), which works with young dads aged 25 and under to effect change and raise awareness of the specific challenges young men face during their transition from young person to young parent. Young dads are almost invisible in government policy, and to many employers as well. While we know that there is work to be done on improving the workplace for all fathers, we have even further to go for young dads.
I talked to YDC about their experiences of work and what could be done to help them be great employees as well as great dads. The change they wanted was simple: they wanted employers to recognise them as fathers. They wanted to be asked about being a dad and their children, when their birthdays were, what things they liked doing. This would make it easier for them to talk about their responsibilities as a parent and work with their employer to balance these responsibilities.
They also talked about how becoming a father had put pressure on them to support their family financially. For some, this meant an end to studies or apprenticeships so as to increase the money coming in. This meant missing out on opportunities that could boost earning capacity now or later in life, but also meant having to make difficult career choices early in life. Several felt that mentoring would be really useful in helping them to learn about job opportunities that were out there, and how they could get them.
So, here are two easy steps that employers could take to help support young fathers: creating some space for talking about being a dad, and freeing up employees to mentor younger people.
Megan Jarvie is head of policy and public affairs at the Family and Childcare Trust