Call for cash help for young jobless

Mayor of Hartlepool Stuart Drummond
Mayor of Hartlepool Stuart Drummond

HARTLEPOOL Mayor Stuart Drummond says the town should be considered for Government help after the creation of a new programme to tackle youth unemployment.

The Government has launched a £60m package aimed at boosting work prospects and transforming vocational education among young people by creating thousands of new apprenticeships and work placements.

It comes after the Mail revealed that Hartlepool has the second highest proportion in the country of 18 to 24-year-olds on the jobs queue.

Last month, 1,345 people in that age group claimed Jobseeker’s Allowance, which accounts for 16 per cent of people in that age group in the town.

It is more than double the 7.3 per cent national average and significantly higher than the North-East average of 9.9 per cent.

With youth unemployment nationally nearing a million, Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg vowed to get more vulnerable youngsters into work by tackling some of the long term “structural barriers” they said stopped some young people starting their career.

The Government said it will provide funding for up to 250,000 more apprenticeships over the next four years and fund 100,000 work placements over the next two years.

Ministers also announced that more than 100 large firms and tens of thousands of small companies around the country had pledged to offer work experience places.

The measures are designed to ensure that young people had the opportunity to get work, advance their career prospects and encourage social mobility and help fill some of the 500,000 vacancies in the job market, said ministers.

The Government said it will invest £60m over the next three years to provide more work programme places to vulnerable 18-year-olds who are likely to be struggling to make the transition from education to work.

It will also increase the capacity of Jobcentre Plus to support 16 and 17-year-olds who are not in work or education.

A new £10m a year innovation fund will be launched aimed at the voluntary and community sector to help in the drive to help young people find jobs.

Mayor Drummond said: “My initial reaction is that we are one of the areas most in need in this field and I would expect us to put a strong case together if we have to bid for funding.

“What the Government needs to look at is matching the areas for help with the areas that have high unemployment.

“On a local level, the council, Hartlepool College of Further Education and a number of local businesses are already working to create a number of apprenticeships, so if there is funding it will be very welcome.”