HUNDREDS of young unemployed people will be trained and made ready for the jobs market under a major programme on Wirral to create a new, skilled workforce for the region.
Merseyside Community Training Ltd, a Birkenhead-based not-for-profit social enterprise, has been awarded a Flexible Support Fund (FSF) grant by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to operate as Wirral Youth Employment Hub.
The new venture will bring together partner organisations across Wirral which will support long-term out-of-work young people back into sustainable jobs and help them create their own start-up businesses.
Over the coming 12 months, it will provide training and employment opportunities for 300 out-of-work young people, aged between 18 and 24.
Wirral Youth Employment Hub’s partnership with DWP comes at a time when the pandemic crisis has pushed the area’s jobless levels to the highest in more than 20 years.
The hub’s programme will focus on Wirral’s disproportionate number of disadvantaged and disengaged young people – in particular, those living in and around Birkenhead - who have always faced barriers to employment. By supporting them into work, the initiative will also address the issue of helping to boost the local economy, already flagging under the weight of coronavirus restrictions.
Last year, more people on Wirral claimed out-of-work benefits than the national average, the number claiming support - at more than 6 per cent of the population - currently calculated to be more than 10,000.
However, figures show that each time an out-of-work claimant moves into a job at the Living Wage, the local economy benefits, on average, by £14,436 a year.
Oliver Sumner, chief executive at Merseyside Community Training Ltd, said: “For the first time there’s now some light at the end of the tunnel to reduce the disproportionate number of young people on Wirral facing a future without much hope of a job.
“This contract awarded by the Department for Work and Pensions means our new Wirral Youth Employment Hub can set to work on redressing the balance.
“It will give disadvantaged youngsters growing up in hard-hit places like Birkenhead – where they have constantly faced barriers to employment - a chance to make something of their lives, to work and to contribute and help sustain the local economy.
“On top of the rising cost of youth unemployment to the UK economy, the misery of being out of work not only means lack of income and few life-enhancing opportunities for those surviving on benefits but also puts them at increased risk of life-limiting illness, cardiovascular disease, poor mental health, suicide and health-damaging behaviours.
“Over the coming year we have an amazing chance to make 300 young people work-ready and fit for the labour market, equipping them with relevant training, new skills and professional support on their journey to jobs.”
Merseyside Community Training Ltd, headquartered at the Environmental Innovation Centre in Campbeltown Road, was originally formed four years ago to set the most disadvantaged young unemployed people on Wirral on the road to employment by offering them work experience placements with local organisations.
Since then - and still targeting those most in need - it has expanded its operation by delivering ambitious and innovative community-based projects which have social value as well as making an impact on the local economy. Supporting the projects are Wirral Youth Employment Hub partners and DWP work coaches, working on-site to deliver both virtual and face-to-face training courses.
A number of young people are already being helped to set up their own businesses through Merseyside Community Training’s Young Entrepreneurs Academy. After pitching their entrepreneurial ideas earlier this year to business leaders and professionals, they are now receiving practical help, advice and guidance from existing local entrepreneurs.
Mims Davies, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, added: “By rolling out youth hubs like this across local communities, young people will be able to access vital, suitable support from our work coaches in a range of settings. The venture will help to match them with local opportunities, whether it’s more training or a move into employment.”
“This is a challenging time and we are serious about investing in young people as we get Britain back working again and moving further into recovery. That’s why we are also injecting £2 billion into the DWP Kickstart scheme, creating new, subsidised, high-quality roles for under-25s as we continue to protect, support and create jobs.”