Government, businesses and civil society call for youth-led innovation to reduce unemployment in local communities

The ‘Transition to Work’ West Midlands Pilot aims to support young people into work

Today members of the government, leading UK employers and civil society partners are gathering at 10 Downing Street to launch an innovative new approach to reducing youth unemployment.

The meeting is part of the Inclusive Economy Partnership, bringing together business, civil society and government to help address major societal challenges facing those on low to middle incomes. The first initiative from the group is the West Midlands Pilot, a collaborative approach to creating a sustainable pipeline of young talent.

Over 800,000 young people are currently not in education, employment or training. The West Midlands Pilot is designed to better reach this group by breaking down the silos that exist between organisations and taking an integrated approach defined by young people. Lived experience is at the core: young people co-lead the design, development, governance and delivery. The project will take a “local first” approach to closing the gaps in provision, by connecting, amplifying and building on the innovative projects that already exist in the West Midlands.

The pilot will be built out from local communities within the West Midlands, with the aim of scaling successful initiatives across the nation.

Andy Street, the Mayor of West Midlands, has committed his support to improving social mobility, skills development and job creation. He said:

“The West Midlands is experiencing significant economic growth, with record levels of job creation across the region. However, levels of youth unemployment remain high – which is why getting more young people into good jobs is one of our key priorities.”

“Movement to Work has already made a positive impact for young people in London, so I’m delighted to welcome them to the West Midlands, where they will support our efforts to create a thriving and inclusive economy where more young people can get the training and skills they need to get good jobs and careers.”

The project has a number of partners including Accenture, Movement to Work, UnLtd, O2, Youth Employment UK and West Midlands Combined Authority with support from the Cabinet Office and the Department of Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS).

Olly Benzecry, Chairman and Senior Managing Director, Accenture, UK & Ireland said:

“As one of the world’s leading economies when it comes to innovation, the UK must find ways to harness that innovation to tackle the persistent challenge of youth unemployment. Swathes of young people are readily available to enter the workforce, but lack the right skills, or find themselves locked out in a cycle of “no experience, no job; no job, no experience”.

“Initiatives like the West Midlands pilot provide us with the opportunity to collaborate to find new ways of getting young people into jobs, with the aim of building a more inclusive economy in which everyone has the opportunity to fulfil their potential.”

Mark Norbury, CEO of UnLtd said:

“Access to meaningful employment is a vital part of our society becoming fairer for young people. Social ventures have shown that they are ideally placed to tackle this challenge because they offer innovative and effective employment solutions that are ideally placed to build both practical skills and shape positive aspirations.

“We’re thrilled to be working on the West Midlands Pilot. This pilot means we have a chance to be bolder and braver with the ideas we’re developing and support more social entrepreneurs to help young people in the West Midlands access meaningful employment and imagine a better future.”

Ivan Menezes, Chairman at Movement to Work said:

“Youth unemployment remains a scandalous waste of talent in the UK. As employers we are determined to do our bit to tackle this issue, but we can’t do it alone. It will take the joint effort of business, government, civil society and the young people themselves to make a real difference. This pilot is an innovative new initiative to foster greater collaboration and to put renewed energy into addressing youth unemployment. We encourage all organisations and individuals with an interest in taking on this issue to join us.”

Laura-Jane Rawlings, CEO, Youth Employment UK said:

“Youth Employment UK is delighted to be working on this project.  As a youth-led organisation we believe collaboration is key to reducing youth unemployment. In order for all young people to fulfil their potential, we must work in partnership to create a genuinely youth friendly UK. Working on this project with so many like-minded organisations has the potential to create a real step change”.

For more information on the programme and how to get involved please contact West Midlands Pilot programme lead Ikram Wadud at Ikramul.wadud@accenture.com

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For more information, please email info@youthemployment.org.uk or call 01536 513388.

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