Young people, whose job prospects have been the hit hard by the Covid 19 pandemic, are to be guaranteed training and career opportunities under a new youth employment offer launched today.

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), the Department of Work and Pensions  (DWP) and their partners have developed a new offer of 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.

The package includes access to vocational training, more work coaches, funded work placements, access to apprenticeships and more support to become self employed. 

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street, Minister for Employment Mimms Davies and City of Wolverhampton Council Leader and chair of the WMCA’s Youth Unemployment Taskforce, Councillor Ian Brookfield, officially opened the youth hub which will provide the support for young people at The Way Youth Zone in Wolverhampton.

The offer to young people is a crucial part of the WMCA’s plan to drive the region’s economic recovery from the pandemic by equipping local people with the skills they need to land jobs in growing industries.

Support for young people will be delivered through a new online platform, providing a ‘one stop shop’ for them to find out about the jobs, apprenticeships and training options available in their local authority area. It will also include career ideas, job hunting tips, travel information and wellbeing support.

Ganga Bansal from Wolverhampton who recently finished studying at university hopes to launch a career in business consultancy.

He said: “I have recently graduated from university and because of the impact of Covid 19, I am worried about my future prospects. It’s great to know that there is support out there, to help me find out about local jobs are available and how to get one.” 

The Mayor, who met Mr Bansal at today’s opening, said: “We know that young people are being hardest hit as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It’s critical that we help our young people to move into further education, training or work, including through traineeships, apprenticeships and work experience placements, and this package of support for them will do exactly that.

“The new online platform is an easy way for young people to find out what’s available to them in their area, with all the information in one place.

“The youth platform will be the perfect on-line support mechanism to complement the new Youth Hubs which provide a physical location for young people to access support and services.  

“Providing a youth friendly setting for young people to meet their youth employability coaches and get the help they need are what the Youth Hubs are all about.” 

Mims Davies, Minister for Employment, who joined the event via video link, said: “It's vital that young people know what support is available right now to help them into employment. 

“Local, tailored support is a huge focus for me at the Department for Work and Pensions – putting job centres at the heart of communities, boosting young people’s confidence and helping them to tackle barriers. 

“We're also working with the WMCA and its partners to provide crucial outreach to young people in a range of settings, because we must ensure that those in need of our help have easy access to it.”

Councillor Brookfield, who chairs a WMCA taskforce focused on improving opportunities for young unemployed people, said: “In our recovery from the pandemic, we must do everything we can to support everyone into work.

“I’m pleased we’re launching our new offer for young people here in Wolverhampton, building on the successful Wolves at Work programme, which the city council works on with the DWP. 

“Our young people are our future and the online platform and Youth Hub will be a major boost to helping them in this area.”

Working with Jobcentre Plus, local authorities, the voluntary sector and local employers, the WMCA has developed the following offer for young people:

  • free careers advice
  • access to vocational training – with a focus on training that leads to jobs 
  • hundreds more dedicated Jobcentre Plus work coaches
  • access to funded work placements through the Government’s Kickstart scheme
  • access to apprenticeships 
  • more support to become self employed

As part of the West Midlands offer the Youth Hubs are being set up in Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton, to join up local employment and training services so that young people can gain the support they need in one place.

The WMCA developed the online platform in partnership with Youth Employment UK, a youth organisation dedicated to tackling youth unemployment in the UK. 

Laura-Jane Rawlings, CEO of Youth Employment UK, said: “We are delighted to be working with the West Midlands Combined Authority to create this place based digital platform. Young people have consistently told us they do not feel confident that they know how to find good quality opportunities where they live. 

“The WMCA have worked hard to bring together this offer. Continuing to champion good quality opportunities and making sure young people know how to find them will be a big step in the fight against youth unemployment across the West Midlands.”

To find out more about opportunities in your local area, visit the online youth platform at Youth Employment UK.