Leading the way for a better skilled workforce

By on 09/09/2013 in Cllr Ali, News

Employment opportunities in Birmingham are set for a major boost as the city council sets out challenging targets to expand apprenticeship opportunities in the city. The Apprenticeship Strategy aims to tackle youth unemployment by:

•             doubling the current number of 16-18 year olds starting apprenticeships, to over 5,700 by 2015/16

•             generating a 300% increase in apprenticeships for 19 to 24 years, to 9,000 by 2015/16

A report to be considered by Birmingham City Council Cabinet on 16th September sets out the first  Apprenticeship Strategy for Birmingham, with a 5-point plan to:

•             increase the numbers of apprenticeships available

•             ensure every young person in the city has access to those opportunities

•             support young, unemployed people aged between 16-24 into employment

•             improve skills levels for residents who otherwise face barriers to employment

•             target specific communities and local areas facing barriers to employment

With the economic crisis having a considerable impact on the city’s residents, preventing Birmingham people, and particularly young people becoming long term unemployed is seen as a fundamental part of part of the council’s vision for economic growth. The Birmingham Commission on Youth Unemployment, set up by the Leader in August 2012 called in its final recommendations to ramp up the number of apprenticeships for young people and preparing young people better for work.

And the message is clear to city employers – there’s never been a better time to take advantage of apprenticeship opportunities.

The Apprenticeship Strategy builds on the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP City Deal for Skills, and the success of the Young Talent for Business initiative which offer employers  cash incentive for taking on apprentices. As well as providing help and support to access a pool of young people, Young Talent for Business allows employers to claim up to £3,000 (through the Birmingham Jobs Fund and the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers) for taking on a young person, aged 16 to 24, for an Apprenticeship or other job opportunity. This support reflects the key role of employers in providing high quality apprenticeships which will lead to sustainable jobs – and equally allow employers to develop a skilled and productive workforce, and to improve their competitiveness.

Councillor Tahir Ali, Cabinet Member Development, Jobs and Skills, said: “Our vision for Birmingham is to drive economic growth through developing the skills of our residents and workforce, by raising the aspirations of young people in the city, ensuring quality of provision, building on the competency base of existing employees, and offering opportunities to workless residents.

” We see increasing the availability of apprenticeships and improving the uptake by both Birmingham residents and local employers as key to achieving this vision.

“As the largest employer in Birmingham, the city council is taking a lead with a commitment that all entry-level jobs in the city will be considered as apprenticeship opportunities, where appropriate.”

Tackling youth unemployment is one of Birmingham’s key priorities, with an unemployment rate among young people of 22.5%. The Apprenticeship Strategy will reinforce the work of the Birmingham Children Strategy Partnership, which works to ensure that every child achieves their potential, and the city’s Skills Agenda which gives every young person the opportunity to progress on to an apprenticeship, further education or training.

Councillor Brigid Jones, Cabinet Member Children and Family Services, said: “The council recognises the importance of supporting every young person in the city to aspire and be able to achieve their best. The Apprenticeship Strategy will be a valuable tool in ensuring that our young people do not become the long-term unemployed of the future.”

Alex Bradley, employed by Service Birmingham as one of three apprentices in its Link2ICT Division spent his final year as an apprentice working as a school ICT technician at Anglesey Primary in Lozells, Birmingham – and made such a good impression that he has now been taken on as a full employee.

Alex said:  “I really enjoy my job. There are many challenges – whether it's being called into a classroom to fix something or upgrading a server. It's really rewarding to know that my work helps the pupils and teachers here.”

The Strategy will also see the city council lend its support and influence to encourage the further development of apprenticeships by harnessing the powers it has in procurement of goods and services, and its planning powers to capture apprenticeship opportunities for Birmingham residents, and develop appropriate routeways to ensure that Birmingham residents, especially young people, are able to take advantage of the quality apprenticeship opportunities that are on offer.

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For more information contact Steve McCarthy in the Press Office on 303 3367

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