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Norwich jobs drive targets most difficult to reach

PUBLISHED: 09:00 04 October 2014

MP Chloe Smith who launched Norwich For Jobsd

MP Chloe Smith who launched Norwich For Jobsd

Archant Norfolk

A campaign to support jobless young people has set itself a tough new target - to find employment opportunities for those hardest to help.

Norwich For Jobs was launched by MP Chloe Smith in January last year with the aim of halving the city’s jobless count for 18 to 24-year-olds in two years.

Having seen that target reached seven months early, with nearly 150 local employers backing the campaign by pledging jobs or work experience opportunities, organisers will now pay particular attention to the 750 young people in the Norwich area who are claiming employment support allowance rather than job seekers’ allowance.

Julia Nix, district manager for Job Centre Plus, said: “This particular group of individuals has some form of health barrier or perhaps a caring responsibility that makes it more difficult to find work.

“Many have a moderate mental health issue, such as depression, anxiety or a lack of confidence.

“However, if we can support them to overcome that, an NHS report has underlined the fact that the best form of recovery is some kind of work.”

Data on young people with learning difficulties showed that “their workability was second to none”.

“Once employed, they very rarely go sick and they work exceptionally hard,” she said.

Miss Smith said there were already outstanding success stories of employers such as RG Carter taking a chance on people with disabilities and they hoped to involve many local companies.

She said: “We have built so many good contacts with employers through Norwich For Jobs. Now we want to bring that group passion to bear on helping these youngsters who are more difficult to place.”

Ms Nix said some of the young people would need adaptations to premises due to their disability; others might need support workers or mentors to help them adjust to the workplace.

“We will be involving the voluntary sector, we can’t do this alone,” she said.

Both praised the achievements of Norwich For Jobs which had brought together employers, young people and the wider community in a concerted campaign.

More than 1,000 young people had been placed in jobs and apprentices pledged by employers, the latest one to help being construction materials firm Lafarge Tarmac which was taking on a total of eight apprentices this month.

Ms Nix said a crucial point was that, thanks to the campaign, more employers were advertising jobs through JobCentre Plus, reaching the youngsters claiming Job Seekers’ Allowance.

Miss Smith stressed that the campaign would still be committed to keeping the count of youngsters claiming JSA below 1,000. Any employers able to help are asked to visit the website www.norwichforjobs.org.uk/ to check out details.

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