Norwich for Jobs campaign is a “shining example”, says minister
13:42 19 November 2013
Archant Â© 2013
The Archant-backed Norwich for Jobs Campaign was this morning described as a “shining example to the rest of the country” by employment minister Esther McVey.
During a visit to Norwich to check out the initiative which aims to halve the city’s youth unemployment in two years, she described it as a “win-win” for employers and young people.
The minister praised the “pioneering” work of MP Chloe Smith who launched the campaign in January and said she could “absolutely see it developed in other parts of the country too”.
After chatting to young people, employers and representatives of Job Centre Plus attending a campaign meeting in St Andrew’s House, Norwich, she said: “It is absolutely terrific what Chloe is doing in bringing the component parts together: employers, young people who want jobs and Job Centre Plus.
“This campaign is about connecting people and it is a win-win; businesses are happy they have got a fresh young recruit and young people are happy to be given a chance perhaps with some work experience.”
Ms McVey said she hoped the Norwich North MP could put together a “template” for her campaign and make it available to other MPs.
Ms Smith described the campaign as a team effort and said she was proud of the fact that in the first nine months, more than 550 jobs and apprenticeships had been pledged by local employers and nearly 300 young people had actually started work.
She said: “I have spoken about it in Parliament to make sure people know it can be done and that is very much the spirit of the campaign.”
She said she was confident it could be successful elsewhere and there were already examples of other people copying the scheme, for example in Tower Hamlets, London.
“I would love to see Norwich for Jobs go right across the UK,” she said.
Ms Smith stressed that there was a lot more work to do in 2014 to reach their goal and urged more employers to come on board by pledging jobs, apprenticeships and work experience.
Earlier, Julia Nix, regional manager for Job Centre Plus, told the minister the campaign’s success was down to the determination of Ms Smith whose personal engagement with employers had opened up job opportunities that would not otherwise have been there.
Chelsea Bales, 23, a City College leisure and events management student, said she had joined the campaign’s young persons’ panel because she was conscious of the barriers to employment facing her generation.
She highlighted the fact it was not enough to have good qualifications to get a job these days and she was working part-time and volunteering in addition to her study.
During the afternoon, the minister visited the St Edmunds Society’s new purpose-built skills centre in Oak Street, Norwich, opened earlier this year by former Army officer Colonel Bob Stewart.