Norwich business leaders pledge to tackle ‘tragedy’ of youth unemployment

Dick Palmer, Andrew Barnes, Chloe Smith MP, Julia Nix and Nigel Pickover at the launch of the Norwich For Jobs initiative supported by local businesses, education groups and job support services.
PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY Dick Palmer, Andrew Barnes, Chloe Smith MP, Julia Nix and Nigel Pickover at the launch of the Norwich For Jobs initiative supported by local businesses, education groups and job support services. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

By Mark Shields
Friday, January 25, 2013
4:53 PM

Tap into the talent, creativity and dynamism of Norwich’s young people.

That was the plea to city businesses yesterday at the launch of a major initiative aiming to slash in half the number of unemployed young people in Norwich by the end of 2015.

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Chloe Smith MP launches the Norwich For Jobs initiative supported by local businesses, education groups and job support services.
PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAYChloe Smith MP launches the Norwich For Jobs initiative supported by local businesses, education groups and job support services. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

The Norwich for Jobs campaign, backed by the Eastern Daily Press, was unveiled by Norwich North MP Chloe Smith, who called on companies of all sizes to think about the opportunities they could offer to young people – and the edge it could give their business.

Businesses which have already pledged their support for the scheme include Norfolk County Council, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, May Gurney, Marks and Spencer and Chapelfield shopping centre, where yesterday’s launch was held.

Support has also come from City College Norwich, Howes Percival, Heatrae Sadia and Serco NNUH, with each business yesterday presented with an official pledge certificate, recognising their commitment to helping young people into work.

Miss Smith is leading a steering group of key Norfolk business and education figures whose aim is to halve the nearly 2,000 18 to 24-year-olds claiming Job Seekers’ Allowance in the Norwich Job Centre Plus area.

Chloe Smith MP launches the Norwich For Jobs initiative supported by local businesses, education groups and job support services.
PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAYChloe Smith MP launches the Norwich For Jobs initiative supported by local businesses, education groups and job support services. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Addressing a packed room of around 130 people, Miss Smith thanked the businesses which had already shown their support for Norwich For Jobs, and urged others to follow their lead.

“We know that there are around 2,000 unemployed young people in the Norwich area at the moment,” she told the EDP afterwards.

“We also know however that there are lots of opportunities, lots of vacancies out there.

“There are jobs being created, there are vacancies available. We’re asking employers in the city to consider what they can do to help a young person for young people: perhaps take someone on, perhaps an apprenticeship, perhaps work experience – or offering young people the skills to get started in their own businesses.”

The “stubborn problem” of youth unemployment was one which demanded action, she added. “Nothing about this project is easy. It is a challenging project and we’ve set ourselves an ambitious target.

“We know that in Norwich we have a great set of local businesses and organisations prepared to give young people a chance and who know that they can find great talent for their businesses in our city’s youngsters.”

Calling youth unemployment “a tragedy” for those affected, she said businesses should also be aware of the economic benefits of recruiting youth.

“If you look at what you can get from an apprenticeship, you can get young talent that wants to stay with your business, learn the way your business works, that can actually help inspire your older workforce as well, and help you train your company be fit for the future.

“All of that has a benefit for every business that might want to come forward.”

Johnny Hustler, managing director of Archant Anglia, the Eastern Daily Press’s parent company, urged businesses to help young people achieve their dreams and prevent their “flames of ambition” being extinguished by frustration.

Davina Tanner, general manager of Chapelfield shopping centre, confessed to having a vested interest in equipping the workforce of the future – but one that shared by many others.

“The young people of today are going to be building this country and driving it forward so it I can live in it in my dotage,” she said.

“There’s also that cliche: if you haven’t got experience, you can’t get a job; but if you haven’t got a job, you can’t get experience.

“We, as businesses, need to give those people the chance to step up to the plate, to prove themselves and to be empowered.”

Chapelfield is hoping to break the cycle by offering apprenticeships in customer services, facilities and waste management.

Guests also heard from 22-year-old Henry Carruthers, a member of the campaign’s youth panel, who explained the hurdles facing young people entering the jobs market.

He said it was “a real inspiration” to see so many people willing to address the “stagnant blight” of unemployment among his peers.

“I don’t want to preach that young people need charity – they don’t,” he said. “As a group we have a huge amount to offer.”

Dick Palmer, chief executive of City College Norwich and Transforming Education in Norfolk, said swift action was needed.

“It’s really difficult for young people these days – the worst I’ve seen in my 20-odd years in further education.

“Young people bring a huge array of skills and attributes to a business,” he said, emphasising how young employees at City College had shown their innovation and creativity.

The campaign is being backed by the Eastern Daily Press and sister paper the Norwich Evening News.

Editor Nigel Pickover said: “This is a hugely significant campaign for Norwich, for Norfolk, for the whole area.

“We want to make sure we’ve not got a lost generation of 18 to 14-year-olds, people who want to contribute, who are full of ideas, and who are lost at home without jobs to go to,” he said.

“We are behind this campaign all the way.”

And he sounded an optimistic note over the campaign’s ambitious targets.

“I hope we’re going to do all of the 2,000 jobs,” he said.

“If we can halve it in the first year, which is ambitious, can we halve it again in the second year? Then we’ll be down to a few numbers.

“It will be ongoing – this is going to go on for the next decade.”

7 comments

  • Another 2 pages in the EDP today, yesterday it was front page and a 2 pager inside. thank God there is no EDP on Sunday. EDP is plugging this to death. Chloe is after votes, not jobs!

    Report this comment

    Police Commissioner ???

    Saturday, January 26, 2013

  • Our youngsters have to compete with failed hordes communist bred 'yoof', tis unfair advantage that the commie kids can pitch up and be more mobile, with cars than don't have an mot,insurance or as proven in many cases, driving licenses either forged or not.

    Report this comment

    nrg

    Sunday, January 27, 2013

  • I find it quite odd that when you see some of the most influential people coming together with an idea to get young people in Norwich into jobs, and the local newspaper supports the campaign, that there is so much negativity. Chloe Smith has actively supported and encouraged similar efforts and schemes that assist young people to find jobs, with the government's Apprentice scheme being just one of them, and I know that Archant themselves have found real value in employing youngsters as apprentices. Finally, I doubt whether Chloe Smith is losing any sleep over Jessica Asato when her opening gambit was: “We need to show there is an alternative to this government’s failed economic policies..." On that point she might need to look closer to home with her own Labour party. In 1997 Labour inherited a budget that was actually in balance. After a painful and turbulent decade under the Tories, the public finances had finally been brought under control. After just four years in office Gordon Brown took out the country's credit card and let rip. By the end of 2009-10 our annual deficit had ballooned to £170.8 billion.

    Report this comment

    The Mardler

    Monday, January 28, 2013

  • Another 2 pages in the EDP today, yesterday it was front page and a 2 pager inside. thank God there is no EDP on Sunday. EDP is plugging this to death. Chloe is after votes, not jobs!

    Report this comment

    Police Commissioner ???

    Saturday, January 26, 2013

  • Its a cosmetic exercisesupported by minor players to cover up the creation ofsolid well paid jobs with an easy hit of 1000 ephemeral jobs

    Report this comment

    No to tory boy

    Saturday, January 26, 2013

  • Typical helping the kids to work and forgetting the adults. I was unemployed for 2 and half years, I got NO help at all, and all the kids who never wanted to work got loads of help. I begged to do any coursetraininganything but was told due to my age. so unfair

    Report this comment

    markt74

    Monday, January 28, 2013

  • Aha, so there's a 6th part to the totally overboard EDP coverage. 6 parts but no point, unless your point is to maximise Chloe's relaunch PR. Is she really that concerned by Asato? And why hasn't Chloe been on the case of this pressing issue from the first moment she entered parliament in 2010 if she thinks it so terribly important? Good to see the County Council right up there at the same time it is shedding jobs left right and centre.

    Report this comment

    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Saturday, January 26, 2013

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