New scheme to get youngsters into work

HUNDREDS of young people in the eastern region who have been unemployed for two years are to get more help back into the workplace.A new government scheme to be piloted in East Anglia will offer youngsters aged 18-24 up to six months' work experience to improve their employability and help them get jobs.

HUNDREDS of young people in the eastern region who have been unemployed for two years are to get more help back into the workplace.

A new government scheme to be piloted in East Anglia will offer youngsters aged 18-24 up to six months' work experience to improve their employability and help them get jobs.

Jobseekers who take part in the Work for Your Benefit programme, which will consist of 30 hours a week work experience, will still be able to retain their benefit.

Failure to participate could result in the loss of benefits.

It follows an earlier government announcement that every young person unemployed for a year will be guaranteed a job, training or work placement which will be compulsory.

The pilots will apply to people on Jobseeker's Allowance who will already have been offered a range of alternative intensive support at an earlier stage in their claim - including training options, short term work trials, a recruitment subsidy for employers to take them on, or voluntary work in the local community.

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Figures for the number of young people unemployed for two years were unavailable last night but of the 11,770 young people in the three counties jobless as of June 2009, 2,270 of them had been claiming for over six months.

The initiative was given a cautious welcome in the region.

Chris Starkie, chief executive of regeneration partnership Shaping Norfolk's Future, said: “In principle it seems a positive initiative because we know one of the biggest challenges people who are out of work for a long time face is getting the experience they need to be employable again.

“Six months is long enough to be a credible work placement which will give them a bit of experience which could prove useful in getting back to work.”

Peter Barry, president of Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, said: “Anything that tries to help long-term unemployed back into work has to be positive. But whether it's going to work is another matter.

“The other problem is that there are a lot of people unemployed at present, and companies are looking to employ people who have recently been in work rather than those who have unemployed for a long time. But if it makes unemployed people more credible employees, then that's positive.”

Kevin Horne, chief executive of NWES, an enterprise agency operating in the East of England, stressed the need for “real opportunities” if the scheme were not to fall into dispute. He added: “Success will depend entirely on the quality of work placements and the degree to which the individuals are willing participants.

“Low grade jobs created almost entirely in the public sector will not solve the problem; details of the incentives for private sector businesses to participate have not yet been announced and yet this is where economic growth will come from and where placements will have long-term success.”

The pilots will take place in Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk and Greater Manchester, and will run for two years from October 2010.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Yvette Cooper said: “We are investing �5bn to help people who have lost their jobs. We are determined to give the right help and support to everyone who is unemployed.”

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