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Council’s ‘Youth Promise’ to tackle Birmingham unemployment crisis

Council’s ‘Youth Promise’ to tackle Birmingham unemployment crisis

🕔14.Nov 2014

All young people in Birmingham will have access to jobs, training, apprenticeships or work experience when they leave school, the city council has promised in a major effort to address a chronic youth unemployment crisis.

The council’s ‘Youth Promise’ gives 16-19 year olds access to employment, education, training, apprenticeship or work experience within four months of leaving school or college.

The offer was launched yesterday at the Skills Show which runs at the NEC until November 14.

Cllr Penny Holbrook, cabinet member for skills, learning and culture, set out the promise:

  • Establish a new Birmingham careers service – information, advice and guidance if you are aged 16-19 and not in education, employment or training.
  • Provide specialist mentoring – one-to-one support if you are not in education, training or employment.
  • Introduce a single monitoring and tracking system – this will provide an integrated service aimed at tracking and engaging with young people and reducing the number whose current activity is not known.
  • Improve investment in targeted and specialist support – targeted funding will be made available for local areas to spend on those who need it most.
  • Establish a digital access point – cutting-edge technology providing information at your fingertips including opportunities matched to skills and achievements.
  • Deliver the Birmingham Baccalaureate.
  • Improve transport and connectivity – making job opportunities more accessible through better connectivity.

Cllr Holbrook said: “Young people are at the heart of this city. This promise recognises the role young people play in our future and is the city’s response to a generation who may feel they are being left behind. It firmly says ‘you are our future; we recognise that and we will invest in you’.

“This promise will provide vital support for young people moving into employment, helping develop their skills and give them a range of opportunities.

“For those who face the biggest challenges, there will be targeted and specialist intervention so they can fully participate in education, training and employment.

“We have one of the youngest populations in Europe but despite this growing talent pool, youth unemployment is still a problem. Although it has fallen recently it is still too high at 10 per cent – twice the national rate.

“However, working in partnership with schools, further education colleges, businesses and the voluntary sector I am determined we will meet this challenge head on for the sake of our young people.”

Birmingham’s seasonally adjusted youth unemployment rate for 18-24 year olds stands at 9.4 per cent. The unadjusted rate, at 10 per cent, is the second highest among the core cities – significantly above the core city average of 7.9 per cent.

Of the 7,915 young people unemployed in Birmingham in August, 1,530 (19%) have been unemployed for over a year. In parts of Birmingham a quarter of long term unemployed Jobseekers Allowance claimants are aged 18 to 24.

The figure for long term unemployed young people has fallen by about a half since January 2013 when the council launched a £15 million fund to fight youth unemployment. The fund and this week’s jobs and training promise emerged from the deliberations of a commission set up by council leader Sir Albert Bore in 2012 to examine the youth employment crisis.

The NEC Skills Show is free to attend, is open to teachers, parents, children and businesses and is showcasing a wide range of vocations including offering people the opportunity to try their hand at more than 45 skills with the ‘Have a Go’ experiences.

The Have a Go experiences are focused on five skills areas; the built environment, cultural and creative arts, professional services, engineering and IT and business administration.  These activities giveyoung people a chance to find out what interests them and explore the job sector more closely.

Alan Volkaerts, board director for the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP and also operations director for Jaguar Land Rover’s Solihull plant, visited Miss Macaroon in Hockley, Birmingham, to promote the show by trying out some bakery skills.

Mr Volkaerts said:  “The whole idea of the Have a Go experiences is to try your hand at something new to see if it is something you like and whether or not you could consider it as a potential career choice. In taking part in Have a Go at Miss Macaroon, I’ve certainly experienced something very different to my normal day job and I’d encourage any young person to take advantage of the initiative to sample some new skills and investigate the career opportunities.

“The long-term economic future of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull region is dependent on young people and adults being given the skills they need to succeed in employment.  With youth unemployment levels remaining high this is a great opportunity to find out about potential careers and training.”

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