Norwich For Jobs campaign winning the battle one year on
08:00 21 February 2014
Archant Â© 2014
A pioneering campaign to drive down youth unemployment has “really made a difference to the lives of our young people”, a breakfast gathering at The Forum in Norwich was being told this morning.
The “One Year On” celebration event was laid on in the Fusion Gallery to mark 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”.
Ahead of this morning’s event, which brought together employers, campaign partners including job centre staff and young people who have benefited, 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.
“As a result, those youngsters are taking home pay and gaining experience. I say directly to them: ‘you’ve told us throughout the project how much this means to you. It’s been great working with you to do that, both young people and businesses’.”
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, significantly, Norwich has out-performed the rest of the county.
Ms Smith said: “We are very proud to celebrate One Year On today, and to thank everyone who’s helped so far. But I want us to do the same again in the second year of the project, which won’t be easy - so we need everyone’s support.”
EDP 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, 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.
“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 - relentlessly seeking out new employers to offer work placements and apprenticeships while at the same time engaging young people and offering them support and guidance - has attracted widespread interest.
Other MPs around the country are looking at rolling it out while a visiting group of female MPs from Tanzania recently attended a campaign steering group meeting to see if the ideas were applicable in their country.
The roll call of firms to embrace the scheme and offer apprenticeships and work placements includes the Norwich branch of Marks and Spencer and city manufacturing firm Heatrae Sadia.