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Youth unemployment plummets in Birmingham, but 6,000 still seeking work

Youth unemployment plummets in Birmingham, but 6,000 still seeking work

🕔01.Aug 2016

Six thousand young adults in Birmingham are still out of work and looking for jobs even though youth unemployment in the city has more than halved in the past four years.

The number of young people claiming unemployment benefits has fallen from 14,450 to 5,965 since 2012, according to a city council report.

And while Birmingham has seen the largest youth claimant reduction rate of the UK’s Core Cities, the youth unemployment rate remains stubbornly high at 9.2 per cent which is almost twice as high as the 5.4 per cent average the country’s largest cities.

Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce chief executive Paul Faulkner described the figures as a positive step – but warned there is still plenty of room for improvement.

Mr Faulkner said bridging the gap between the education and business sectors is crucial to tackling the issue. He said:

Birmingham’s issues with youth unemployment are well documented and this report is particularly welcome as it highlights how far the city has come since 2012.

Over the past four years the number of young people claiming unemployment benefits in the city has fallen by 8,485 – an impressive accomplishment.

Nevertheless, youth unemployment in Birmingham is still at an unacceptably high level with nearly 6,000 young people still looking for work.

While the report shows that we are on the right path, it also reveals how far we still have to go and should motivate us to work even harder to address these issues.

Mr Faulkner added that one of the most effective ways to make sure young people have the skills they need to be ready for the world of work is by bridging the gap between education and businesses. He said:

Our research has shown that 84 per cent of schools in the West Midlands believe that engagement with employers improves students’ awareness of the softer skills valued by businesses and that 72 per cent see increased levels of motivation from pupils after experiencing the world of work.

Mr Faulkner paid tribute to the efforts of the Birmingham Youth Partnership, set up three years ago as a joint venture between the council, the Chamber and the Government with the aim of creating at least 1,000 jobs for long-term unemployed young adults.

We are a proud member of the Birmingham Youth Partnership. The BYP involves partners from the public, private, and third sector and has worked tirelessly in recent years to address Birmingham’s youth unemployment problem.

BPS Birmingham, the voice of the business and professional services sector in Greater Birmingham, recently staged a Professional Services Week to inspire future talent in the city and inform young people about the opportunities that exist for a career in the sector. Targeting secondary school pupils aged 14-16, it had a particular focus on reaching into communities which have not been the traditional source of young people heading towards a career in business and professional services. 90% of registered schools for the Week were from priority wards.

Ahmed Farooq, BPS Birmingham chair, said:

The BPS Future Commission Report published a couple of years ago included a very stark warning to the sector. If we are to resource our future growth then we needed to engage with schools in the city to start a dialogue that informs, encourages and motivates our young people to think about careers in professional services. BPS Birmingham felt it was important to find a way to bring schools and professional firms together in a meaningful, fun and focussed way. It is important to engage whilst there is time for young students to prepare and work out an educational path to ensure they have the right skills to take advantage of the opportunities the sector provides.

250 pupils from twenty schools along with around 20 professional services firms took part in the Week. Research following the campaign showed that five times more pupils understand professional services jobs after the Week.

The council report revealed Hodge Hill has experienced the biggest reduction in claimants of all the city’s constituencies, with Washwood Heath, Shard End and Bordesley Green also seeing a substantial fall.

Shilpi Akbar, assistant director for employment at the City Council, added:

We can be cautiously optimistic about the good news in this report.

It shows that the direct measures we have put in place to tackle youth unemployment since we published the Commission on Youth Unemployment in 2013 are working – including in those wards with the highest and most intransigent numbers.

We must use this as an incentive to continue to work with our partners so we can do more in the coming years to get our young people into the fantastic opportunities this city has coming our way.

We know that there will be many thousands of jobs created here and our young citizens must be first in the queue to take them.

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