'Don't stop now' - Employers urged to keep up the pace as Norwich for Jobs marks fourth anniversary
The region's employers were urged to keep the pedal to the metal as a campaign to reduce youth unemployment marked its fourth anniversary.
And bosses heard that offering a helping hand to younger people was increasingly being seen as a way for businesses to distinguish themselves as an employer of choice.
Norwich for Jobs was launched in 2013 with the aim of halving Norwich’s youth unemployment within two years, an aim it achieved before going to help nearly 130 disabled or disadvantaged youngsters into work.
Nearly 100 guests, made up of employers, employees and support organisations, were at Holiday Inn Norwich North to hear the campaign’s progress as it enters its fifth year and the stories of those who have been helped along the way.
Steering group chairman Caroline Williams said: “The challenge now is to make sure that this does not slip off the agenda, with all the other challenges that businesses are facing.
“We can’t allow that to happen – it would be doing our young people a disservice.”
Under the scheme, businesses commit to helping young people find work by offering support which can range from interview tips to work experience placements or apprenticeships.
Justin Harris of building materials firm Tarmac said taking on apprentices had offered them new careers, but also motivated existing staff and opened up a new talent pool for the company, reducing recruitment fees.
He added: “It also helps us give confidence to our clients. We can say ‘This is what we do as a business’ and here’s the evidence, so it also helps commercially too.”
Mrs Williams said participation in Norwich for Jobs could give companies an edge in an increasingly competitive recruitment landscape.
“Big businesses, especially, have to create a culture people want to join,” she said.
“Earning good money and being a nice place to work no longer makes you an employer of choice – businesses must now show they care about people, and Norwich for Jobs is a way of doing that.”
Norwich for Jobs in numbers
• 1,502 young people began employment,
• 274 young people began apprenticeships, and
• 301 young people began work experience placements directly as a result of the project.
368 young people engaged
199 work experience placements completed
132 young people moved off benefits
129 young people into paid work with an employer