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Campaign helps cut youth unemployment in Norwich

PUBLISHED: 08:07 21 February 2014 | UPDATED: 08:07 21 February 2014

Chloe Smith, Conservative MP for Norwich North. Photo: Adrian Judd.

Chloe Smith, Conservative MP for Norwich North. Photo: Adrian Judd.

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More than 500 young people are in work thanks to a pioneering Norfolk campaign which celebrates its first birthday today.

Norwich for Jobs, launched by Norwich North MP Chloe Smith is ahead of its target to cut youth unemployment by 1,000 in two years.

Now MPs around the country are looking at rolling out the scheme in their own constituencies.

While the latest figure for youth unemployment in the city saw a small rise,to be expected after Christmas, there has been a consistent fall over the course of the campaign, and Norwich has out-performed the rest of the county. Ms Smith said: “We have achieved something really special in Norwich thanks to the community. Nearly 100 local businesses have pledged their support and got over 500 young people into work.”

Today employers, job centre staff and young people who have benefited were attending a celebration event to mark the half-way stage of the two-year campaign.

Caroline Williams, CEO for Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, said putting a strong focus on getting young people into work was beneficial to businesses too.

She said: “Any business who employs young people finds that it is their ‘can do’ attitude and their ability to work outside the box which makes them such a valuable asset.”

A “One Year On” celebration event will be held at The Forum in Norwich this morning, which marks the half-way stage of the Norwich For Jobs campaign – and toast news that it is ahead of its target to cut the city’s youth unemployment by 1,000 in two years.

When Norwich North MP Chloe Smith launched the initiative 12 months ago, the bleak figure of young people out of work around the city stood at more than 2,000, while across the country debate raged about a “lost generation”.

EDP and Norwich Evening News editor Nigel Pickover, who has supported the campaign from the outset, echoed Ms Smith’s call to carry on the good work.

“It has been a heart-warming story of just what is possible when the whole community pulls together through voluntary effort,” he said.

Caroline Williams, CEO for Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, added: “Norwich For Jobs has enabled businesses, providers and the public sector to work together under one banner to really make a difference to the lives of Norwich’s young people by provide jobs and work experience.”

The recipe for the campaign – seeking out new employers to offer work placements and apprenticeships while at the same time offering young people support and guidance – has attracted widespread interest. A group of female MPs from Tanzania recently attended a campaign steering group meeting to see if the ideas were applicable in their country.

Do young people play a big role in your firm? Email stephen.pullinger@archant.co.uk

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