The new hub at The Way Youth Zone is planned to open in the autumn to provide a ‘one stop shop’ for young people, offering access to vocational training, funded initiatives such as Kickstart, apprenticeships, traineeships and work experience.
The hub will be led by City of Wolverhampton Council in partnership with The Way and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), with support from our successful Black Country Impact youth employment programme.
It forms part of a regional youth employment offer developed by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) alongside the DWP and other partners.
The offer covers employment and skills support for everyone aged 16 to 29 who lives in the region and is unemployed, at risk of losing their job, or leaving school, college or university.
It was launched as an online platform last year and further in person support will start to become available from the autumn at The Way. Young people will be able to meet with DWP Work Coaches in an informal setting.
Other services on offer include advisors from the Black Country Impact programme. The programme offers support to young people aged 16 to 29 to find employment or training opportunities.
Members of the Connexions team will also be available. The team works in our secondary schools, special schools, and college, offering careers information, advice and guidance to students.
Discussions are currently underway with a range of local youth employment, skills and wellbeing providers who will also be able to use the hub to engage with young people.
The Youth Hub supports City of Wolverhampton Council’s commitment to creating more opportunities for young people. A second hub is planned for the City of Wolverhampton College premises in Bilston.
The youth employment offer forms a key part of the Council’s Relighting Our City programme to support local people into jobs and skills, particularly those who have been, or have become, unemployed due to the pandemic.
The Council and DWP are also the lead partners for the city’s successful Wolves at Work employment programme, which has helped more than 6,000 local people into work since March 2017. Half of those gaining employment through this programme are aged 18 to 29.
Councillor Dr Michael Hardacre, City of Wolverhampton Council’s cabinet member for Education, Skills and Work, said: “I’m really pleased that the city’s young people will soon be able to access support and guidance in person as well as via the successful online platform.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has hit our young people hard and it’s vital that we do all we can to support them to move into further education, training or work. This includes traineeships, apprenticeships and work experience placements.
“Whilst face to face meetings have been difficult due to coronavirus restrictions, our Impact team, Connexions and Wolves at Work have all been working with young people remotely.
“However, support will now also become available in person at The Way from the autumn, to help young people to understand and choose the right pathway for them.
“The Youth Hub is set to be a friendly and welcoming place to meet knowledgeable staff and access support and services. I know it will help to offer our young people the best opportunities for their future.”
Helene Dearn, West Midlands DWP Group Director, said: “DWP and the City of Wolverhampton have a long and successful history of collaborative working to support residents across the city. This includes our joint response to the pandemic as well as the wonderful Wolves at Work programme, that is truly helping change the lives of citizens, day in and day out.
“The Wolverhampton Youth Hub is another example where DWP and the City Council have come together to provide that much needed support for young people; particularly as they start their journey into the world of work.
“The Youth Hub is an inclusive and welcoming addition for Wolverhampton where young people aged 16 to 24 on Universal Credit can access paid work experience through the Kickstart Scheme.
“Kickstart will give our young people the chance to build their confidence and skills in the workplace. Gaining experience will improve their chances of progressing into long term sustainable employment.”
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “We know that young people are being hardest hit as a result of the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, and we therefore need to do even more to help them move forward in education, training, or into employment.
“That is why, working with partners from across the West Midlands, we’ve created our Youth Offer - which guarantees training and career opportunities for young people.
“Whether it’s starting a new college course, or moving into work through the Kickstart scheme, brilliant facilities like the new Youth Hub at The Way will give young people access to work coaches to get the help they need to get back on track and begin their careers.”
The development of the Youth Hub will be discussed at the next meeting of the Council’s Cabinet Resources Panel on Wednesday (28 July). Committee members are being recommended to approve grant agreements with the DWP and further agreements necessary to deliver and manage the project.