Investing in our young people

By on 12/03/2014 in Blog, Cllr Ali

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Click on the audio file above to hear Cllr Ali’s comments on the work the council is doing to help apprentices

I met a young lad the other day who had been named the 100th apprentice to be appointed to work on New Street station.

He reminded me of all the fantastic success Birmingham City Council has linking targeted recruitment and training directly to investment, resulting in hundreds of Birmingham residents getting into work.  The recently completed Library of Birmingham, the expansion of the Metro and New Street Station are just some of the examples that demonstrate what can be achieved.  This will continue through schemes such as Paradise Circus, HS2 and the expanding retail offer at Grand Central Birmingham.  

It is my priority to ensure that Birmingham's workforce has the right skills and experience to capitalise on the job opportunities that are being created, and are contributing to and benefiting from the growth in the economy.  We need to ensure that Birmingham has the skills to rise to the challenge both now and in the future. 

I particularly want to support our youngsters to get into the labour market though great apprenticeship opportunities that provide qualifications and lead to a future career. Birmingham is one of the youngest cities in Europe, and our young people should be seen as a major asset.  However, the level of youth unemployment is too high, we need to invest in redressing this now, and reverse this trend before it's too late for some of our young people.  

The '1,000 apprentices in 100 days' campaign was recently launched, calling to arms all sizes and sectors of business to support the drive to improve skills through apprenticeships.  This resulted in nearly 1,500 apprenticeship pledges being secured from local businesses for our young people, so we know the appetite is out there. 

Working with the Department for Work and Pensions and the National Apprenticeship Service we have created a multi-agency team to tackle long-term youth unemployment in the city, and the city has committed £2m of its own funds to provide incentives to employers.  In addition we have just won £4m from central government to further support this cause.  
It was during National Apprenticeship Week two years ago that the 100 plus apprenticeship target was launched by Network Rail, Mace and Birmingham City Council to demonstrate the project's commitment to supporting training and development for the young people of Birmingham. 

Contractors and sub-contractors have risen to this challenge in reaching our target for apprenticeships, and many of them are already working in partnership with the Council's Employment Access Team to recruit local people and support apprenticeships.  This has a made a real difference and is changing lives.

I want to see that momentum carried through the whole New Street project and beyond, and continue to support unemployed residents and apprentices to develop the skills and experience and train the next generation of young people. It only takes a small commitment to make a big change, and there is a dedicated resource to work alongside contractors to make this happen through Birmingham City Council and South and City College.

I know the companies working on New Street have a real passion for apprentice schemes in growing a workforce for tomorrow.  It makes business sense to invest in a company's future.  Companies that invest in skills are more likely to succeed than those that don't.  The potential in our young people is immense, and we should take advantage of that.

Here's an interesting stat. There was an apprenticeship target of 25 on the Library of Birmingham, and we achieved 82 - or 328% if you like!  Let's keep going on the New Street Station project and see what can be done there too.

Ends

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