Victoria Leggett, Education correspondent
Thursday, February 21, 2013
The team behind a daring campaign to slash the number of Norwich youths searching for work said they hoped to soon be having a major impact – as new figures showed youth unemployment had risen between December 2012 and January.
Norwich For Jobs aims to cut the number of 18 to 24 year olds in Norwich claiming jobseekers’ allowance by about 1,000 over the next two years.
It is encouraging the county’s businesses to give young people the opportunity to apply for their vacancies, create apprenticeships, and offer opportunities like work placements and mock interviews that could increase their chances of finding a job.
The latest figures released by the Office for Norwich Statistics yesterday show a drop in youth unemployment among 18 to 24 year olds over the past year for both Norfolk – from 6,155 in January 2012 to 5,335 in January 2013 – and in the Norwich Job Centre Plus area from 2,360 to 1,935.
But the number of young jobseekers’ allowance claimants in both areas had risen between December 2012 and January 2013.
Last night Julia Nix, regional manager for Job Centre Plus and a member of the Norwich For Jobs steering group, said these latest figures related to a count taken on January 10 – before the launch of the campaign on January 25.
The next set of figures, taken earlier this month, will be released in March when the NFJ campaign would have only been running for a fortnight.
Mrs Nix said: “That’s why this is a two-year project. We know this is a long-term investment.
“Some of the opportunities we are creating will be ones to get young people there which will take a couple of months to show up on the statistics. Some will be straight-forward jobs.”
But Chloe Smith, who has spearheaded the campaign, said she hoped the efforts of the many businesses and organisations pledging their support to NFJ would soon reap rewards.
Speaking following the release of yesterday’s unemployment statistics, she said: “It is good news that unemployment is broadly coming down, considering the figures at same time last year. However, these aren’t just statistics. Every month’s numbers represent people in difficulty and that’s why Norwich For Jobs seeks to halve Norwich youth unemployment from approximately 2,000.
“We launched the project after this particular data release, so Norwich’s collective efforts can’t yet be seen in the figures. The point is the same: we believe we can achieve this ambitious goal by encouraging employers to consider whether they can take on a local young person. We want to connect people up with good opportunities and focus the community on a common goal.
“We will be looking closely at the figures every month to see what more Norwich can do for both local business and local young people.”