Thursday, October 2, 2014

News: Harnessing the power of young people in the SCR

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Ambition SCR, a localised approach to tackling youth unemployment, has secured £5m from the Government to support at least 950 young people across the Sheffield City Region (SCR) into sustainable employment in the next two years.

A partnership led by Sheffield City Council on behalf of the city region, the programme was successful in its submission to Cabinet Office to pilot a youth employment model as part of the national Youth Employment Programme. It aims to ensure that "the talent, energy and productive power of young people" does not go to waste.

The Local Enterprise Partnership has set an ambitious target of creating 70,000 new jobs in the SCR by 2023. The Ambition SCR programme is designed to meet the substantial demand for apprentices and new employees by creating a pathway to work for 18-24 year olds and by improving the supply of "job ready" young adults.

In the period March 2008 to March 2012 youth unemployment in SCR doubled and was 73% above its March 2008 level in March 2014. Even more concerning is the growth in longer term youth unemployment. Currently 21.4% of young claimants in SCR have been claiming for more than 12 months.

As part of the programme, individual young jobseekers will receive support on career planning, employment preparation, confidence building, money management, work placements, assessments, job-related training plus key worker support and financial incentives to secure sustainable employment.

Starting last month and running for two years, the programme aims to support 2,370 18-24 year olds claiming Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) to progress towards the labour market with a minimum of 950 moving into sustainable employment. The Government will pay for supporting 1,620 programme beneficiaries into work and the funding from the SCR local authorities will support a further 750 beneficiaries.

The funding is from the Government's £1 billion Youth Contract, launched in April 2012 in response to the challenge of youth unemployment. It aimed to provide nearly half-a-million new opportunities for 18-24 year olds, including apprenticeships and voluntary work experience placements.

The scheme has consistently failed to recruit to target and in July 2014 the government announced its termination when it was reported that less than 4,700 of the target of 160,000 young people would successfully complete the programme. Cities were invited to bid for a share of the £50m Youth Contract underspend to pilot new approaches to tackling youth unemployment and to increase the take up of the Youth Contract Wage Incentive offered to employers taking on young people.

The pilot is intended to help shape future employment initiatives that might be commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions and the Local Enterprise Partnership.

Images: AMRC Training

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