Programmes to reduce youth unemployment in the Leeds City Region have helped more than 2,000 young people take steps towards sustained employment.
The success of the programmes – delivered by the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and its partner councils – were highlighted at yesterday’s West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Investment Committee as an example of how devolution of skills funding and powers to local bodies can deliver better outcomes for the economy and local people than nationally-led schemes.
Eight out of 10 young people participating in the City Region’s £4.6m Devolved Youth Contract – secured as a result of its 2012 City Deal with government – have progressed into employment, education or training as a result of support; the national figure by comparison is three in 10. The City Region programme has now surpassed its initial target for enrolments and provided support to more than 2,600 16-17 year olds in Bradford, Wakefield and Leeds overall.
Skills, confidence and experience
Bradford Council Leader, Cllr David Green, Chair of the Combined Authority Investment Committee and Deputy Chair of the LEP’s Employment and Skills Panel said: “These programmes are making a real difference to youth unemployment in our region and have helped thousands of young people gain the skills, confidence and experience to take steps towards the workplace.
“The success of the programmes also demonstrates how we, as a team of local councils and businesses, are proving that devolution works. Through our Devolved Youth Contract alone, we are delivering markedly better results than one-size-fits-all national approaches. This is why we are seeking further devolution of skills budgets and decision-making so that we can meet our ambition of being a NEET-free City Region and help thousands more young people.”
In 2012, the number of young people in the City Region claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance was 28,500. Now, as a result of growth in the regional economy and local programmes, that number has more than halved. The latest figures from the Department of Work and Pensions indicate that 11,800 18-24 year olds are claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance in the City Region as of January 2015.
Meanwhile the LEP’s Headstart programme has helped more than 420 young people gain work experience and move into positive outcomes. The programme focuses on 18-24 year olds who have been unemployed for six to nine months, providing them with support, training and a guaranteed interview with a local employer, followed by in-work mentoring.
Other local projects are also having an impact: the LEP’s apprenticeship programme, which helps small businesses recruit an apprentice and provides free, impartial information to young people considering an apprenticeship, has so far created over 1,000 opportunities for 16-24 year olds across
the City Region. As part of the discussions at yesterday’s Investment Committee meeting, there was unanimous support from all members to work closely with the LEP’s Employment and Skills Panel to further the impact of the apprenticeship programme.
Roger Marsh, Chair of the LEP and Deputy Chair of the Combined Authority Investment Committee added: “Following the results of a new study announced this week, highlighting that qualified apprentices going into full time employment could earn up to £4,000 more than graduates in their first job, it is more important than ever to work with young people, schools and parents to share the benefits that apprenticeships can bring.
“I am delighted the Investment Committee has committed to working with the LEP’s Employment and Skills Panel to further the work of the successful apprenticeship programme and ensure more young people living in the City Region understand the career opportunities available to them.”