How businesses can help the Norwich for Jobs campaign

Friday, January 25, 2013
10.20 AM

Norwich For Jobs has an ambitious aim – 1,000 job for the city’s young people in just 24 months.

The aim is admirable and much-needed as the country continues to suffer with some of its highest levels of youth unemployment for nearly two decades.

But those opportunities are not just going to magic themselves out of thin air and the Norwich Foundation For Jobs – the group behind the campaign – is relying on many other people to get behind their efforts to make it a success.

It all focuses around The Pledge.

Businesses are being asked to pledge their support to NFJ and, with it, their support of Norwich’s young people.

Andrew Barnes, senior partner at Howes Percival and a steering group member of the campaign, said: “We are asking local businesses to make a commitment that they will do what they can to look out for opportunities for which young people can be considered within their workplace.”

In signing the pledge, business leaders will also be asked to specify what kind of opportunities they hope to be able to offer.

In an ideal world that will involve creating jobs – or advertising existing vacancies – which young people can be encouraged to apply for knowing that company is supportive of young people.

Julia Nix, regional manager for Job Centre Plus, said employers were not being asked to give young people an unfair advantage or to defy any employment law.

But she said many opportunities were not even advertised, meaning young people could not find the vacancies available.

“It’s just about giving them an opportunity alongside everybody else,” she said. “If there’s a 25-year-old that’s better, fair enough, but if they have not even opened it up, they have no chance.

“If employers come through us, we can show them the young people we have available.”

Apprenticeships – a key focus for the government at the moment – are also being encouraged and NFJ hopes its efforts will combine with Norfolk County Council’s Apprenticeships Norfolk campaign to ensure young people reap the benefits.

But there are many other opportunities that businesses could offer including work experience, pre-employment training, and mock interviews.

Although requiring a smaller commitment from businesses who may be reluctant to take too many risks during a difficult financial climate, all have been shown to increase someone’s chances of finding a job.

Mrs Nix said: “Sometimes it’s about the employer realising the talent that is out there. Sometimes the guidance and support the young person receives during that time will help them see what they’re doing wrong – that they’re saying something wrong in the interview or not putting the right things in their CV – and sometimes it’s just the confidence boost that the young person gets when somebody shows an interest in them so they don’t think they are useless.

“It’s about giving hope.”

It will be up to the steering group – with the help of the Job Centre Plus in Norwich – to ensure young unemployed people eager to make the most of the opportunities on offer are helped to connect with a business that has taken the pledge.

For that they need young people to get in touch, via the NFJ website, to let them know they are in need of a job.

They need businesses to advertise as many of their jobs as possible through the Job Centre.

And they need other organisations to get in touch to share ideas that could help the campaign succeed.

Chloe Smith, Norwich North MP who is leading the campaign steering group, said: “Our ask to Norwich firms is: consider if you can give an opportunity to a young person.

“Help us ask other employers too. This is your chance to work with young talent for the future of your business.

“Our ask to Norwich young people is: guide us on what you know is needed for your future.

“Our ask to the many key partners who already do such good work for young people is: share your excellent schemes and allow us to help you amplify them.”

To help track the campaign’s progress, the steering group will track the monthly unemployment figures, via Job Centre Plus, to see how many young people are being helped into work.

And the foundation will also keep a monthly watch on the number of businesses taking the pledge and the number of opportunities they are offering local young people.

To find out more go to www.norwichforjobs.org.uk

Don’t miss the chance to find your perfect job – visit Archant Norfolk’s Jobs Fair at Norwich City Football Club on Thursday March 7, 9am-6pm. Admission and car parking are free.

For more details contact Alison White at 01603-772115 or alison.white@archant.co.uk