Review highlights work to tackle youth unemployment

Telford & Wrekin Council’s Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Committee have made a series of recommendations on the Council’s work to tackle high levels of youth unemployment in the borough.

Review highlights work to tackle youth unemployment

The Committee’s report has recognised that youth employment is a priority in Telford and Wrekin and their review showed the work each of the organisations is doing to reduce the rate of youth unemployment.

The Committee concluded that the direction of travel is good in terms of the Council’s response to the issue and the rate that youth unemployment in the borough has reduced.

The Chair of the Committee, Councillor Kevin Guy, noted in the foreword to the report that other organisations are working hard to address this issue but that there is still more to do.

At a meeting in November, the Committee will make 13 recommendations aimed to continue to develop the role of the Council in providing a strategic lead to drive the skills agenda across the borough and to work with partners align employment opportunities and future skills needs. These recommendations include:

· That the Council develop a longer term Skills Strategy to provide detailed skills needs for businesses in the borough;

· That Cabinet work with the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to access funding opportunities to support the development and delivery of the strategy;

· That Cabinet challenge local colleges to show how they make decision about provision and how this provision meets business needs in the borough;

· That the Council broker discussion between the principals of the further educations providers to reconsider the option of a joint delivery model;

· That efforts should be made to target marketing the job box and its services to parents so that they can better help their children;

· That the Council should continue to review performance of Job Junctions and develop proposals to secure future funding.

Committee members met with a range of different people, including Council apprentices, the Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for youth unemployment, the principals of the two further education colleges, representatives from Jobcentre Plus, County Training, the Telford business Board and the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

All of the organisations recognised that further work is required and a more coordinated response.

The Committee concluded that the Council is making good progress and comment the great strides taken to reduce rates of youth unemployment in the borough.

Chair of the Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Committee, Councillor Kevin Guy, said: “The purpose of this review was to investigate what barriers exist locally for young people to get work, to examine whether all agencies are playing their part in supporting young people into work and to investigate whether there are any gaps in current provision.

“The significant reduction in youth unemployment rates across the borough is encouraging and demonstrates the good work that is being done by both the Council and its local partners.”

Councillor Shaun Davies, Telford & Wrekin Council cabinet member for employment and skills, said: “The Job Box services have been up and running for just six months and already we’re seeing results.

“The new services, like the Job Box mentors are already celebrating successes, while existing services, like the Job Junctions are benefiting from increased support.

“I’m pleased that the Scrutiny Committee has acknowledged the hard work that has already been undertaken to tackle the challenge of high youth unemployment in the borough.

“I will be urging my colleagues to accept many of the recommendations to ensure that unemployment figures in the borough continue on a downward trend and that we can help every 16–24 year old to find employment and training opportunities that work for them.”

Chris Scott, Principal and Chief Executive at Telford College of Arts & Technology, said: “At Telford College of Arts and Technology, we welcome this report and accept that preparing young people so that they are able to access the Telford job market is a key part of the College’s mission.

“Although youth unemployment has fallen due to the hard work of all partners, more must be done to ensure that each young person is able to access the training and support they need to progress into employment, apprenticeships or into further study. The College will continue to work with local partners to improve the service given to this cohort of people and reduce youth unemployment.”

Fiona O’Brien, Acting Principal and CEO, New College Telford, said: “We recognise that whilst youth unemployment in the borough has dropped, there is always more that can be done to make further progress, and welcome this report.

“Along with other education and training providers in the area, we have a strong focus on developing young people to have the skills they need for employment. This ranges from specific schemes such as traineeships, an increased apprenticeship offer, and the launch of the National Hotel School and STEM centre, to the work we do to embed the softer employment and enterprise skills.

“We welcome every opportunity to work with more partners, including employers, to achieve further reductions in youth unemployment – to the benefit of local people and the regional economy.”

The report by the Children and Young Peoples Scrutiny Committee will be presented to Cabinet on 11 December.