The 4 Black Country Councils came together in 2014 and began work on developing a new approach that supports young people into employment, education and training.
The councils were quickly joined by Black Country Talent Match, a project led by Wolverhampton Voluntary Sector Council and funded through the Big Lottery. Together the partnership has succeeded in gaining approval from Department of Work and Pensions for £34 million of new European Union funding, matched by £8 million from the Big Lottery Fund and further funding from partners to create a £51 million Impact programme.
The funders backing the Black Country Impact project are the European Social Fund and Youth Employment Initiative, as part of the 2014 to 2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England, and the Big Lottery Fund which has provided "match" funding through its financing of Black Country Talent Match.
The project's strength is its individualised approach and alternative delivery, which simply put gives young adults across the Black Country the most flexible and personalised learning and support possible. Support that will help young adults address a range of different personal needs and skills needs in order for them to have the employment opportunities they want.
Councillor Pete Lowe, Leader of Dudley Council, said: "We are delighted to have successfully secured these much needed funds for our residents.
"There can be no doubt that these are challenging times for some young adults in the Black Country. Through the Black Country Impact we are determined to tackle the barriers that may be preventing some young adults from becoming all they can.
"Impact gives its partners the ability to work across the sub region, co-ordinating activities and simplifying access to services for young adults.
"With European Social Fund and Youth Employment Initiative funding, Impact is able to provide a depth of service that would not be achievable for our young adults by any other means currently available. Through specialised services ranging from coaching to managed work placements, Impact work will ultimately give our young adults the best employability prospects for the future, benefiting them and our communities.
"The success of Impact will not only benefit Dudley Borough but it will benefit the whole of the Black Country."
At the heart of the approach from the Black Country Impact is the ability to tailor a package of support and opportunities that meets the needs of the individual, this could be through traineeships, apprenticeships, coaching, work placements, self-employment advice, including social enterprises, customised training or more depending on what works best for the individual.
The Department of Work and Pension, together with the London intermediate body Greater London Authority, manage the European Social Fund (ESF) within England and are the Managing Authority for this project. Locally, Dudley Council has taken the lead role for this project, as well as being a delivery partner, and is the Local Accountable Body for the partnership. Through the Black Country Impact the project will improve young people's participation in the labour market.
Councillor Steve Eling, Leader of Sandwell Council, said: "This project is a fantastic opportunity for councils to work with local employers to get young people from across the Black Country into work.
"They will be given the support and skills they need to start careers in a range of industries and Sandwell is delighted to be a part of that.
"Our young people are our future and anything we can do to make it easier to get them on the career ladder is going to help not only transform lives but also boost the economy."
Impact will deliver to a diverse group of young adults from across the Black Country including those facing multiple disadvantages such as homelessness, ill mental health and drug/alcohol abuse.
Councillor Sean Coughlan, Leader of Walsall Council, said: "I'm delighted that the Black Country Impact has been successful in its bid.
"This is tremendous news for young people in our region. They're our future and its one of our key aims here in Walsall to help them develop the needed skills, experience and encouragement to succeed. This project allows us to make a real difference for young adults in our area and gives us the ability to demonstrate how we can work across boundaries for the benefit of all our residents."
The Black Country Impact is in a unique position to have a wide range of influence with local employers across the Black Country. The project will help young adults overcome the barriers to employment by providing a tailored programme, designed to help the individual build a future in a way that suits their circumstances. This includes, a Key Worker/Mentor trained to support the young adult through their journey, support with employability and skills, advice and guidance which may even include help with travel, childcare and equipment, and even brokering between the individual and the opportunity they decide upon, making it simple to start.
Councillor Roger Lawrence, Leader of the City of Wolverhampton Council, said: "Simply put the Black Country Impact holds great potential for our young adults and long term benefits for us all, and Wolverhampton is thrilled to be part of it.
"Impact provides simple access to trusted advice and support, working with key partners including housing, health, transport and a range of other employers. The project works with communities to support a more sustainable society by ensuring that young adults can contribute their full potential in the economy and take up job opportunities."
Ian Darch, Chief Executive of Wolverhampton Voluntary Sector Council, said: "We are delighted to have been part of the successful bid.
"Through building on the practice we have already developed through our Black Country Talent Match project, funded by the Big Lottery Fund, and working with young people facing significant barriers to employment, we will be able to achieve even more by being a partner in the Black Country Impact.
"Impact ensures that individuals have the best possible opportunity to overcome the range of barriers they face, and to ensure they effectively participate and achieve a positive outcome. The project makes sure that young adults are best placed to take advantage of new opportunities through intensive and focussed up skilling and re-engagement activity."
Contact and follow the Black Country Impact on Type=links;Linkid=7448;Title=Twitter;Target=_blank;, and it's newly launched Type=links;Linkid=7449;Title=Facebook page;Target=_blank;. Alternatively, email Black Country Impact contacts via Type=links;Linkid=7450;Title=Black Country Impact;Target=_blank;.
- released: Tuesday 9 August, 2016