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Norwich For Jobs campaign gathers pace with backing from key figures

PUBLISHED: 18:24 28 January 2013 | UPDATED: 18:24 28 January 2013

Bishop of Norwich Graham James Photo:Sonya Duncan; Copy:; For: EDP; EDP pics © 2010; (01603) 772434

Bishop of Norwich Graham James Photo:Sonya Duncan; Copy:; For: EDP; EDP pics © 2010; (01603) 772434

ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC © 2010

From councils and business leaders to the Bishop of Norwich, people and organisations from across Norfolk who are keen to see our young people succeed are backing the Norwich for Jobs campaign.

The ambitious two-year initiative, which was launched on Friday, aims to halve the current level of youth unemployment in the area by getting 1,000 18 to 24-year-olds off Jobs Seekers’ Allowance and into work.

Led by Norwich North MP Chloe Smith and backed by the EDP, it is encouraging businesses to view young people as serious contenders for their jobs while also offering other opportunities likely to boost a young person’s prospects.

As the campaign gathers momentum, organisations and individuals across Norfolk keen to see both the county’s young people and its businesses given a boost have signalled their support for the cause.

Support has come from the business world, political world, and the church.

The Rt Rev Graham James, Bishop of Norwich, said he believed the campaign could re-ignite a sense of worth in the county’s young people.

He said: “There is nothing more dispiriting for a young person ready for work to find no job to go to. That’s why Norwich for Jobs is such an important initiative. Most people find their sense of worth at the work they do. That’s why our jobs are so important to us and being without one affects our wellbeing so badly.

“I wish Norwich for Jobs well and hope it may help to reverse the growing number of jobless young people in our city”.

Andy Wood, chairman of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership for Norfolk and Suffolk, said he wished the campaign every success and insisted the LEP “would do what we can to support it”.

He said businesses across Norfolk would always have to prioritise taking on the best employees for their companies but said he was in favour of an initiative that would raise awareness of the plight of young people at the moment and he would encourage businesses to think seriously about the benefits a young person could bring to them.

He added: “One would hope they would consider a young person from this scheme. It’s a tragedy that we have around one million young people in the country who are unemployed. In the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk, it’s great that people are getting behind young people and offering their support.

“We cannot afford to have a lost generation.”

Norfolk Chamber of Commerce has launched its own efforts to support young people across the county and chief executive Caroline Williams said the Norwich For Jobs campaign would complement that work.

The organisation’s theme for 2013 is “unlocking the potential of Norfolk’s young people”.

Mrs Williams added: “Our young people are our future workforce and the sooner we spend time helping them to understand the world of work the better.

“Employing a young person can be challenging, as they do need extra time spent with them but their enthusiasm and new ideas more than make up for it.”

Also hoping the campaign will succeed is Norfolk County Council. It gave the campaign its backing and said it hoped their work combined would benefit the whole county.

Ann Steward, cabinet member for economic development, said: “The Norwich For Jobs campaign is a fantastic idea encouraging local businesses to consider employing young people, and at the same time provides young people with another opportunity to find work.

“I very much hope that this campaign will not only benefit young people in Norwich but those from across the county as a whole.

“Norfolk County Council is passionate about helping young people find employment, which is demonstrated through our Apprenticeships Norfolk initiative which aims to increase the number of 16 to 24-year-olds undertaking an apprenticeship.

“Anything that can be done to reduce youth unemployment in Norfolk, especially during these tough economic times, can only be a positive thing.”

Brenda Arthur, leader of Norwich City Council, added: “As a council we are already promoting the living wage, our own apprenticeship schemes and apprenticeship opportunities with our contractors and partners. So we welcome any initiative which helps young people in our city find work in what are increasingly difficult times.”

Chloe Smith, who is spearheading the Norwich for Jobs campaign, said: “I’m delighted for the campaign to get this support.

“ It all goes to show that, as a city, we really can pull together on an aim like this.

“I really look forward to working with business, charities and many others to make this a success.”

The campaign requires the help of people and organisations from all over Norfolk to help it achieve its ambitious aim of halving youth unemployment in Norfolk.

Miss Smith said she hoped many others would follow the example of those groups already backing Norwich for Jobs.

She added: “This campaign is aiming big. I would like the whole city to get behind it. I think we really can achieve something and I think we may be unique, outside of London, for doing so.

“That’s really worth something and I know that many people will want to join the campaign because it benefits both young people and the city.”

Don’t miss the chance to find your perfect job by visiting 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 on 01603 772115 or email her at alison.white@archant.co.uk

victoria.leggett@archant.co.uk

‘WE HAVE TO TRY’ – Chloe Smith makes the case on Page 22

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