Young people in the City of Wolverhampton are set to benefit from more jobs and opportunities thanks to Wolves at Work partnering with the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) on a new taskforce.

Launched by City of Wolverhampton Council Leader, Councillor Ian Brookfield, and Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street, the Youth Opportunities Taskforce will build on the success of Wolves at Work initiatives that have helped more than 5,000 city residents into employment.

Funding from the council and the WMCA will enable Wolves at Work coaches to broaden their social value work with employers in the city to provide further opportunities for local young people through jobs, apprenticeships, in work support and upskilling. This will include more support through the WMCA’s Construction Gateway – which is helping more local people get into good construction jobs. 

Around 45% of those gaining employment with the 600 businesses committed to Wolves at Work are aged 18 to 29.

The new partnership is part of a regional taskforce to be chaired by Councillor Brookfield, who is the WMCA portfolio holder for economic growth, with a specific focus on improving opportunities for young unemployed people across the region.

Its members will include City of Wolverhampton Council, Department for Work and Pensions, the WMCA, the Young Combined Authority, the Prince’s Trust and other organisations that support young people.

Councillor Brookfield said: “Wolves at Work has successfully delivered a number of opportunities for young people through its social value work with partners in the construction industry – and this new partnership with the WMCA will enable us to use that experience and broaden it out to other sectors.

“We know lots of young people want to work but don’t have access to these new opportunities. The taskforce will play a vital role in providing more targeted and sustainable support.

“There is £4.4 billion of investment on site or in the pipeline in the City of Wolverhampton and it’s important that local people benefit from this economic growth and the jobs being generated.”

Mayor Andy Street added: “It is essential that we tackle youth unemployment, but we can only do this by making sure we are teaching our young people the skills employers need across the region. At the WMCA that is exactly what we are trying to do by designing new training programmes and working with further education colleges and local providers across the West Midlands. 

“The Youth Opportunities Taskforce will help do exactly this and build on the success of schemes like the WMCA’s Construction Gateway, which gives unemployed people the skills and experience they need to be site ready for work with a guaranteed job interview.”

The taskforce will oversee a package of support to include:

  • Extending the WMCA’s Youth Employability Coaches programme to the rest of the region – with 10 advisers working in job centres across Coventry and the Black Country, focusing on helping young, unemployed people from disadvantaged backgrounds into work. This builds on the West Midlands pilot with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) in Birmingham and Solihull, where 1,000 young people have been supported and 400 have gained new jobs over the past 18 months.
  • Piloting targeted support for young people aged 16 to 18, who are at risk of dropping out of college and becoming unemployed. 
  • Working with the region’s employers to give more young people access to job opportunities that will lead to a career. For example, through the Construction Gateway, up to 250 young people in Wolverhampton are expected to get jobs working on local projects with major employers in the industry, including Randstad, Willmott Dixon, Eurovia, Countryside and Lovell, over the next 12 months.
  • Working with government to secure sustainable funding for local employment programmes, like Wolves at Work. This City of Wolverhampton Council and DWP initiative, which has recently been extended into its fourth year, has helped more than 5,000 local people into work since March 2017. DWP is continuing to support Wolves at Work by deploying 10 work coaches to the service.
  • Working with the region’s local authorities, the Department for Education (DfE) and DWP to develop preventative measures to reduce the number of young people not entering employment.