Leicester Mercury

Youth hub aims to get over 1,000 into jobs or training

SCHEME UP AND RUNNING BY MAY... LOCKDOWN PERMITTING

- By DAVID OWEN david.owen@reachplc.com

A NEW multi-million pound “youth hub” is being launched to help young people in Leicester find work.

The Leicester City Council project will offer “tailored support and opportunit­ies” for the city’s youth by offering specialise­d and targeted training.

The aim is to get youngsters into jobs, education and training, with the help of local training and enterprise partners with expertise in working with young people and adults.

The youth employment hub is being launched thanks to a successful city council bid for £2 million from the European Social Fund, with the rest of the money coming from the local authority itself (£1.1 million) and its partners.

A council spokeswoma­n said: “The project will offer tailored support and opportunit­ies to young people in Leicester who are not in education, employment or training (NEET).”

The three-year programme plans to help more than 1,000 young people into employment, education or training – and will be open to all young people who fall into the above category.

Its home will be in the former Visit Leicester tourist informatio­n centre, in Gallowtree Gate.

“It will be transforme­d into a youth employment hub which people will be able to visit to find out more about jobs, apprentice­ships, training schemes and college courses,” added the spokeswoma­n.

Councillor Elly Cutkelvin, assistant city mayor for education, said the council appreciate­s just how difficult the coronaviru­s crisis has been for many young people.

“We know that young people have been hit hard by the pandemic,” she said. “We’re determined to prioritise young people for support and help them to achieve their ambitions – especially those who are not already in work, education or training.”

She added: “We were absolutely delighted to get this very significan­t amount of funding for the youth hub project. It will help us to make a real and long-lasting difference to the lives of young people.”

Her colleague, Councillor Danny Myers, assistant city mayor for jobs and skills, said the move was indicative of the council’s determinat­ion to help improve the lot of the city’s youth.

“Setting up a youth employment hub in a prominent city centre location signals our longterm commitment to providing opportunit­ies for young people,” he said.

“This will form an important part of our wider Leicester Employment Hub, which already works directly with employers and jobseekers of all ages and has a proven track record, having helped nearly 300 people into employment or apprentice­ships.”

Coun Myers added: “In line with our Economic Action Plan, we want to encourage investment into the city and drive demand for a skilled workforce, so that local opportunit­ies of all kinds are available for young people.

“This will help Leicester to make a strong recovery from the huge economic impact of the pandemic.”

The project will be overseen by the city council’s Connexions service, which provides careers advice and support for 16 to 25-year-olds.

Three local training providers will also work on the project. They are Futures, which specialise­s in employabil­ity for 18 to 25 yearolds, the Youth Education Project, and Transform.

All three have provided matchfundi­ng to be a part of the project, and will be able to provide more specialist training places and support for young people as a result of the ESF funding.

Support will include help with developing traditiona­l skills such as interview techniques and CV writing, but extra support could include help with online applicatio­ns, someone to accompany them to a job interview, confidence-building techniques and helping to break down any barriers to work that they might be facing.

The programme will particular­ly target groups such as “young people leaving care, those with special educationa­l needs and disabiliti­es, or those from black and minority ethnic background­s”.

According to the council’s figures, the coronaviru­s pandemic has led to more young people becoming NEET.

In February 2020, the number of young people aged 16 to 19 who were not in education, employment or training was 515, or 5.7 per cent of all local young people in that age bracket.

By February this year, the figure had risen to 659, or 7.2 per cent.

The youth hub is scheduled to open in mid-May, lockdown restrictio­ns permitting.

It will help us to make a real and long-lasting difference to the lives of young people Councillor Elly Cutkelvin, above

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