Drop in youth unemployment in Norfolk

Jobless rates among young people in the East of England are continuing to fall despite a warning from a leading charity of the creation of a 'youth underclass' among the poorest youngsters because of fears they will never achieve their goals in life.

A report by the Prince's Trust has warned that many younger people from poorer families in the region are gripped by a poverty of ambition which bars them from achieving their true potential.

The study reveals that young people from deprived homes are three times more likely to believe that 'few' or 'none' of their career goals are achievable compared to those from affluent families.

However, there was better news for youngsters as the latest unemployment figures showed the numbers were continuing to fall.

In Norfolk there were 5,165 unemployed youngsters in April compared to 5,585 in the same period last year. In Cambridgeshire the figures fell from 2,685 to 2,405. But Suffolk bucked the overall trend where youth unemployment increased from 3830 to 3,990.

In Norfolk although the overall figure was down for the county there had been increases in youth unemployment in both Breckland and Great Yarmouth, while in North Suffolk there was a slight rise in Waveney.

But the Prince's Trust report said that one in five young people in the region felt they will never land their dream job, while 12pc believe they will 'end up in a dead-end job', and 16pc feel they will 'end up on benefits for at least part of their lives'.

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In the East of England, 20pc of children are growing up below the poverty line, while in Norwich, it is estimated that 30pc are living in poverty. The research also shows how 14pc of youngsters in the East of England feel that 'people like them don't succeed in life'. Those growing up in poverty are significantly more likely to feel this way.

Graham Ball, regional director for youth charity The Prince's Trust in the East of England said: 'The aspiration gap between the East of England's richest and poorest young people is creating a 'youth underclass' – who tragically feel they have no future.

'We simply cannot ignore this inequality. The Prince's Trust is helping the region's most disadvantaged young people build the skills, self-esteem and aspirations they need to free themselves from a life of poverty and unemployment.'

Alison Thomas, cabinet member for children's service a Norfolk County Council, said that raising aspirations was key and the authority was now targetting those who needed the most support.

The council was also working closely with local businesses to make sure

'We have got to make sure that those who do not have teachers of family members to support and guide them are the ones who get the targeted support,' she said. 'Our 14-19 strategy group recently met with the business sector which was really helpful because it enabled us to identify what it is employers are looking for from young people aside from qualifications.'

This week the government launched a new �60m initiative to help tackle youth unemployment, and Norwich North MP Chloe Smith said the coalition's measures were working.

'This is good news,' she said. 'It shows that there are job opportunities out there, including for Norwich's young people. The government's approach to the economy is working.'

The report comes as members of Norfolk County Council's scrutiny committee are set to examine the impact of a controversial shake-up of the careers service.

Norfolk County Council scaled back its Connexions service last year in the wake of cuts in government funding, while changes outlined by the government in its education bill could see schools take over responsibility for delivering careers advice from councils.

On Tuesday, members of the council's scrutiny committee will look at how the redesign has worked in practice as well as how the focus in future will be tightly focused on helping reduce the numbers of those not in education, training or employment (NEET).

Paul Morse, committee chairman, said: 'The number of NEET young people in Norfolk has been falling but it is important we keep a close check on this area to ensure that budget decisions, both locally and nationally, are not having an impact.

'It is clearly too early to know the impact of any changes at the moment but it is right that the committee seeks assurances about how the new services plans to support Norfolk's young people.'