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Gloucestershire Business News

Glos Lift Off: Support is out there for young people and businesses

Employment Minister Mims Davies MP assured job seekers there are new opportunities for economic recovery as she opened the Gloucestershire Jobs, Skills and Apprenticeship Lift Off.

The minister, appearing virtually at the Kingsholm event, thanked Gloucester MP Richard Graham  and organisers for focusing on such an important issue.

She said:  "It's great to see a localised, community-led response to Covid-19 as we move forward, creating tailored solutions and bringing together a wide range of local organisations. This is vital because what works for one community or labour market mightn't be right for another.

"Importantly, people need to know what support is available right now and be signposted. 

"Glos Lift Off does exactly that and I know there are lots of young people today attending the event and that is fantastic. 

:I really hope that you leave with a better understanding of what's happening across the county to help you into employment because there's some really great work going on.

"Local, tailored support is an area that I have strived to improve upon at DWP - putting Job Centres at the heart of their communities, boosting confidence for job seekers and supporting them to be helped to tackle any barriers. 

"That's why we're investing £150million in our Flexible Support Fund. This will enable those with the local know-how to put it in the right place and put that support right there where it's needed.

"That's going to include our new Youth Hubs, which is part of our Youth Offer, which is springing up and growing across the country. They're already providing crucial outreach to young people in a range of settings such as local colleges, because we must ensure that those in need of our help can really easily access it."

David Owen, chief executive of GFirst LEP, said the post-Covid predictions for the county are of unemployment reaching between seven and 13 per cent. 

He said: "This is absolutely unheard of. We've been at a steady 1.5 to two per cent for the last 10 years. The worst figure in 2009 was about 5.3 per cent.

"That's why events like today are so important. We'll be working to get as many young people into opportunities and employment and get that experience that they need."

The minister talked about a number of schemes to support both young people and businesses to get back on track.

She said: "For any young person right now considering their options, we've increased our DWP sector-based Work Academy programmes. 

"These help local job seekers who are receiving unemployment benefits to prepare for work, with up to six weeks of training and work experience. 

"Importantly, all these programmes are linked to genuine vacancies and opportunities and our participants are guaranteed an interview at the end, so it's really worth taking part.

"Last week we launched the new £2billion Kickstart Scheme, which will create hundreds of thousands of fully subsidised roles, for our young people right across the country. 

"It's going to change the lives of our 16-24 year olds on Universal Credit, who are looking to get that first foothold on the career ladder. 

"It will benefit local businesses with that opportunity to get untapped, transformational local talent. Regardless of your size of business or the number of people you are looking to recruit, we are urging businesses to get involved and apply for this funding.

"From SMEs to micros to big national employers, this scheme has been designed to meet your local needs. It is mutually beneficial, providing access to that enormous pool of potential and enabling our young recruits to get crucial experience and skills which are going to help them boost their long-term career credentials.

"Our first placements will start in November. We'll be running this until the end of next year. So if you're not quite ready as a business, your time will definitely come. 

"We will need you as we create waves of new opportunities for our young people. In the meantime, we can all share this important focus in doing as much as we can to promote all the opportunities that we've got in our local area.

"You get £1,500 per person available to cover any extra costs that you have as an employer. Any organisations acting as intermediaries for smaller employers will be paid £300 per placement.

"I'm very aware that people running their own businesses have got a lot on and this is why we want them to have that opportunity to link up with work coaches, local DWP and those intermediaries to make it easier to carry on with the day job, but find that right young person. 

"This is six months, but we want young people to be on the road to long-term employment."

Follow Punchline-Gloucester.com for more coverage, reaction and interviews from the event

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