Norwich North MP Chloe Smith in rallying cry for apprenticeships to tackle youth unemployment
A rallying cry has been issued to businesses around Norwich to take on more apprentices, as an MP prepares to launch a survey to find out the challenges young people in the city have experienced in finding jobs.
Norwich North MP Chloe Smith, right, is joining forces with City College Norwich and Job Centre Plus to try to encourage more companies to take on young people. Coinciding with National Apprenticeships Week, the Conservative MP will be visiting businesses around Norwich to highlight the benefits of providing apprenticeship schemes.
But she has also appealed for young people who have found it tough to get into the world of work to let her know the problems they have faced, whether its lack of opportunities or a need for more guidance in getting qualifications.
Miss Smith said: 'First of all, we need to help businesses grow and create jobs - step by step, one by one. If a business can take on one extra person, that means a job for someone.
'Young people want to work, and there are opportunities out there for them. Too often, I find that both young people and their potential employers are unaware of how much help is now available to help young people into employment.
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'I urge businesses in Norwich of all sizes to look at the potential benefits of providing apprenticeships.'
A recent National Audit Office report found for every pound invested on work based training schemes, an average return of �18 is generated.
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Government schemes attempting to tackle unemployment among young people include a wage subsidy paid to more than 150,000 18 to 24-year-olds and guaranteed unpaid work placements through a work experience scheme.
Norfolk County Council is also planning to set aside a �3m pot which can be used to subsidise the wages of apprentices taken on by small and medium sized businesses in the county.
But Miss Smith, who is planning to launch a survey into youth unemployment later this week, added: 'I want to hear from young people too. Tell me what holds you back from work. Lack of opportunities? Not sure how to get the right qualification? I want to hear from you so that we can all pull together – young people, businesses, colleges, politicians, and the Norwich community – to solve this problem.
'Helping businesses to grow and young people into jobs is the single biggest issue for me as a local MP this year. It's too important to be ignored.'
City College Norwich is working with Miss Smith and Dick Palmer, principal, said getting young people an experience of the world of work was essential.
He said: 'City College Norwich aims to give all of our students access to experiencing the world of work, whilst they study at the college, and we provide around 1,500 work placements/internships a year which support this aim of student employability.
'We also support around 800 current apprentices and are working with the Gazelle group of colleges to look at two new forms of placement – an enternship and intrapreneur – which look to develop the entrepreneurial skills of our students whilst in the workplace.'
The value of apprentices was highlighted by Andrew Barnes, managing director of Colegate-based Howes Percival solicitors,
He said: 'It is obvious that apprenticeships can bring real benefits to businesses and it is not surprising that the number of apprenticeships has increased significantly over the last year or so.
'The National Apprenticeships Week is clearly an important chance for Norfolk businesses to link up with talented young people who can learn the skills the businesses need to improve their bottom line.'
And Julia Nix, district manager of East Anglia Direct Jobcentre Plus said: 'I am absolutely delighted that Chloe has committed to work closely with Jobcentre Plus to help the young people of Norwich.
'She will be involved on a practical level engaging with young people to understand the barriers they face whilst looking for work in today's job market.
'Working together we will ensure that our young people have a voice and the opportunity to influence how Jobcentre Plus services are delivered to them in their local area.
'We are keen to work with partner organisations and employers to support our commitment to young people and would invite anyone interested to contact us.'
Before Christmas the number of 16-to-24-year-olds looking at work hit the million mark, which led to calls for the government to take urgent action.
• Young people from Norwich who want to let Chloe Smith know the challenges they have faced in getting work should email firstname.lastname@example.org,uk
• Are you looking for a job? Make sure you get the Evening News on Wednesdays for our Jobs24 section and visit the website at www.jobs24.co.uk