Tackling youth unemployment


The latest employment figures for January 2013 were published on Wednesday.

The fall in the headline rate of UK unemployment is clearly welcome news. But here in Northfield the number of people unemployed in January was actually up on the previous month.

So I remain very worried.

Almost 4,500 of my constituents – including 1,260 young people – are still without a job. And they are without a job at a time when there are more than five people chasing every vacancy.

Today a new Costa coffee store opens in Nottingham. In December they advertised for eight members of staff. More than 1,700 people – yes, 1,700 – applied. There can be no denying how tough it is for people looking for work right now.

Particularly worrying are the figures for those out of work for more than a year. In Northfield long term unemployment remains stubbornly high – up almost 60% on two years ago.

For young people it is even worse – long term youth unemployment has more than doubled.

At the start of their working life young people are being failed by a government without a serious plan for jobs or growth. The government’s Work Programme is failing to help. It has found jobs for just 3.3% of the young people who have taken part in the programme.

Last month Ed Miliband came to Birmingham to chair the first summit of Labour’s Youth Jobs Taskforce.

I am pleased that as part of this Birmingham’s Labour Council has launched the Birmingham Jobs Fund – giving out of work young people paid opportunities as a springboard into local careers.

This is Labour taking real local action, leading the way in the fight against youth unemployment. It is now vital that the implementation of the scheme makes it as effective as possible at helping young people into work.

I am talking to the Council about this and will be working with them to do what we can to help tackle this youth unemployment crisis.

  • A version of this article was first published in the Bromsgrove Standard. You can read the newspaper online here.

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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