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Greater Birmingham skills coaching scheme takes 8,000 people off the dole

Greater Birmingham skills coaching scheme takes 8,000 people off the dole

🕔28.Apr 2016

More than 8,000 unemployed people in the Greater Birmingham area have been found work in the past six months thanks to a ground-breaking coaching scheme.

The project, run jointly by the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) and the Department for Work and Pensions, supports people who are finding it difficult to get a job.

Working with 70 employers across the area, the initiative was launched last year following Chancellor George Osborne’s commitment to provide 100 new DWP work coaches for Birmingham and Solihull.

Firms taking part in the scheme are required to set aside four weeks to give local jobseekers the first opportunity to fill vacancies, and are also offering work experience to help build up confidence among out of work applicants.

GBSLEP chair Andy Street said:

During the last few years, the GBSLEP and its partners have worked hard to put in place initiatives that create the right economic climate to generate the level of confidence and momentum needed to secure long term growth and prosperity in the region.

The local economy has been improving but up until recently the level of unemployment was significantly lower than it should have been considering the number of jobs available.

Our work with the DWP, along with support from the wider business community, has put work coaches in place to offer the platform to provide both practical and emotional support to job seekers, from helping to fill out an application form to guiding people through the interview process and what to expect.

It has created the opportunity for many people, who would previously not have had the confidence or ability, to apply for the various roles available on the job market.

Tackling the region’s skills shortage, helping to make sure school leavers have the right qualifications for the jobs that are available, is a key task for GBSLEP and the West Midlands Combined Authority.

GBSLEP’s Skills for Growth strategy sets out 46 detailed actions to focus on in relation to five key locations where individuals develop their skills: in employment, in school, in post-secondary education, via apprenticeships and during periods of unemployment.

The LEP has identified five priority growth sectors where it wishes to build capacity to grow employment and the economy: Advanced Manufacturing; ICT; Life Sciences; Environmental Technologies; and Culture.

Employers routinely complain that applicants often lack the qualifications and skills necessary for employment. Two years ago, West Bromwich MP Adrian Bailey, chair of the House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, warned a “huge skills shortage” was harming prospects for thousands of school leavers across the West Midlands.

Mr Bailey said even the brightest pupils were often ill-prepared for the workplace, while a flawed educational system geared to an academic agenda was holding back career hopes for many young adults.

Birmingham will host the first Professional Services Week this summer.

The aim of the event, from June 27 to July 1, is to inform young people about the opportunities for the future in the professional, financial and business services (BPS) sector. Currently, many pupils do not see careers such as law, accountancy and property as a realistic career choice.

Deloitte in Birmingham is the headline sponsor of Professional Services Week, with other partners including Greater Birmingham Professional Services Academy (GBPSA), Birmingham Education Partnership (BEP), Ahead Partnership and City REDI. It will work closely with BPS Birmingham to help Birmingham schools and their pupils engage with the region’s professional services community and sample a real taste of work in BPS firms. 60,000 more jobs will be created by BPS sector in the years to 2030, but without addressing the skills gap at an early stage the region will not deliver forecast growth.

BPS Birmingham, the voice of the business, professional and financial services sector in Greater Birmingham, aims to inspire Birmingham’s next generation of indigenous talent and open up the world of professional services to an audience who may currently be unfamiliar and alien to its culture, environment and pathways. GBSLEP and Birmingham City Council are also supporting the initiative.

A poll of West Midlands business leaders by Birmingham University at the end of last year revealed that 77 per cent of respondents have struggled to recruit the right people with the right skills in the past 12 months. And when asked to rank the single biggest issues facing their organisations over 59 per cent selected skills shortages.

Martin Letza, corporate partner at Shoosmiths, said:

As business leaders the West Midlands region offers us many advantages, but there are also challenges too. The brain drain of talent to London remains an ongoing issue, as does the growing shortage of candidates in the job market with the relevant skills.

As a business community it is incumbent on all of us to find solutions to these challenges. We can do this through our local enterprise partnerships and I urge businesses to actively engage with the partnership’s plans for the region.

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