School children part of new focus for Job Box

Telford & Wrekin Council is to widen the scope of its Job Box programme, to focus on school-aged children to increase work readiness.

School children part of new focus for Job Box

The Job Box will also extend its focus for those it assists to find work, including ex forces personnel and over 50s.

The Job Box was launched last year, to bring together skills and employment services to help to tackle high levels of youth unemployment in the borough.

In a little over 12 months, the Job Box has achieved the goals set out in the original Cabinet report and even exceeded many of these.

Youth unemployment levels in Telford and Wrekin had halved and are now below the national and regional figures. As of July 2015, youth unemployment in Telford and Wrekin stands at 13.6 per cent in the West Midlands, youth unemployment is 16.9 per cent and nationally, it is 16.2 per cent.

In a report to the Council’s Cabinet meeting next Thursday (15 OCT), it is proposed to develop a Skills to Employment Programme which will involve working directly with the business community to understand and support their skills needs and ensure that children are inspired by and prepared for the world of work. This will support future economic growth and inward investment and ensure a resilient workforce.

The report demonstrates the success of the Job Box programme supporting unemployed young people in the borough, through the work of Job Box Mentors and Job Junctions held across our communities. The Council as a major local employer has also developed its own apprenticeship and work experience placements, and delivered jobs and skills fairs involving 9,000 people. In addition to this the Job Box has engaged with nearly 5,000 people with success costing on average less than half of many of the national skills programmes showing the value of investing in local solutions.

The Devolution Deal proposals recently submitted by Telford & Wrekin Council to Government aims to build on this success, seeking local responsibility for the delivery of national skills programmes alongside greater commissioning of skills investment to meet local business needs.

Local businesses often report that young people leaving education are not yet work ready. The Life Ready, Work Ready element of the programme seeks to tackle this.

Led by senior representatives from business, education and the Council alongside parents and governors, projects set to come forward include the Business 2 Schools Brokerage. This will build stronger links between local employers and schools raising the quality and relevance of work experience, to give children as young as primary age a real sense of the job and career opportunities locally and equip them to meet business needs.

The Job Box is also offering sponsorship to local secondary schools to take part in the Young Enterprise programme, giving students the opportunity to start up and run their own business over one academic year.

During October the Job Box will be launching an online facility that will support students with work readiness skills prior to going on their work experience. The new facility will also provide an electronic diary for students to complete and gain greater and more consistent feedback from businesses on an individual’s placement.

Subject to Cabinet approval, the Council will also be launching a grant based scheme that will help to encourage SMEs to recruit an apprentice. The Council’s Job Box programme will offer support to SMEs in the recruitment process.

Councillor Gilly Reynolds, cabinet member for Employment and Skills, said: “Our Job Box programme has been a huge success and we have made significant progress against all of our original pledges in under the two year period.

“We now have an opportunity to widen the scope of the programme and help even more people in the borough who are struggling to find work or training and ensure that we support our businesses to grow and investors to target the Borough, ensuring more job opportunities for local people.”

The report will be considered by Telford & Wrekin Council’s Cabinet on Thursday 15 October.