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Skills crisis Youth Promise ‘best £50m we’ve ever spent’, council leader claims

Skills crisis Youth Promise ‘best £50m we’ve ever spent’, council leader claims

🕔17.Feb 2016

A twin assault on Birmingham’s skills crisis has been launched by the city council, spearheaded by a £50 million deal with the European Union to help more than 16,000 young people into work.

The Youth Promise Plus, organised by the council on behalf of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP, will focus on 15 to 29-year-olds who are not in employment, education or training.

EU funds will contribute £33 million of the £50 million cost for the four-year scheme.

The council has also approved the Birmingham Skills Investment Plan which sets out the challenges relating to low skills and unemployment and how these will be addressed in the long-term to “ensure people of all ages are equipped with the skills they need to secure sustainable and well-paid jobs”.

The plan, developed by the council with partners, is designed to join up, influence and ensure best use of employment and skills funding, both now and in the future, with a particular focus on tackling the skills gap as well as skills mismatch, which results in employers struggling to fill higher-skilled jobs.

The BSIP reinforces the Birmingham Youth Promise, which has pledged to provide young people in the city with the support they need to gain employment, develop their skills and strengths – particularly through apprenticeships and work experience placements – and make the most of the opportunities available. This will be further strengthened with the launch of a digital careers website for young people later this year.

Surveys have consistently highlighted a mismatch in Birmingham and much of the West Midlands between the skills possessed by school leavers and young adults and the type of jobs available, particularly in construction, high tech and digital sectors.

Council leader John Clancy said the cost of the youth promise “could be the best £50 million we have ever spent”.

Cllr Clancy warned Birmingham would be held back from taking advantage of economic recovery. New jobs coming on stream including those created by the arrival of HS2 would not go to unemployed local people unless the skills crisis could be tackled.

Councillor Penny Holbrook, cabinet member for skills, learning and culture, said:

This is not some woolly strategy the council has designed. It’s an investment plan.

One of the issues we are facing as a city is the real need for a more highly skilled workforce in order to close the gap between supply and demand in certain sectors of employment.

Crucial to this is the need to ensure that every child in the city has access to high quality, independent careers advice so that they can make informed choices about the subjects they choose at school and are confident in their future career options. The BSIP maps out where the jobs are now and the types of jobs employers will be recruiting for in the coming years.

If we do not work to increase skills levels over the next 10 years then we will have a situation where 174,000 low skilled workers are chasing 150,000 low-skilled jobs, meaning 24,000 individuals will be left with an increased risk of unemployment.

At the same time, we will have 85,000 people with intermediate skills chasing 80,000 jobs, while employers will struggle to recruit to the estimated 230,000 higher-skilled jobs needed with only 184,000 higher-skilled workers.

Clearly, this will have a knock-on effect, not just on the individuals in question, but on their wider communities, the city and the regional economy as a whole. This is why the BSIP is so important – it highlights where these skills gaps are and how we will go about closing them.

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