Inside ambitious plans aimed at tackling high levels of youth unemployment in West Midlands

Businesses have backed the West Midlands Mayor's ambitious plans aimed at tackling high levels of youth unemployment. Richard Parker unveiled his flagship proposals on Wednesday (July 10) in which he hopes to create 20,000 learning and work opportunities over the next few years.

At an event at Glasswater Locks in Birmingham, Mr Parker said the region has higher than national average levels of youth unemployment while businesses had told him they struggle to recruit due to a skills shortage in the area. And the plan has earned support from the business community who want to see the 'untapped talent' unlocked.

Steve Rigby Co-CEO of Rigby Group and Chair of the Rigby Foundation said: "Today’s plan is the starting point. A commitment by our mayor to work with employers and the business community to create new opportunities for the younger generation and support the region's growth and prosperity.

READ MORE: Mayor launches flagship plan aimed at tackling region's high youth unemployment

"Too many of our young people are struggling. We need to create an environment where their ambition can flourish, allowing them to prosper locally in well paid roles. Investment in our region must filter through into real jobs, pay and prospects for the young people who live here.

"My family Foundation recently worked with the Centre for Social Justice to understand the challenges facing our young people and the interventions that could practically help. We are using the findings to focus our efforts in the West Midlands and will be announcing a number of exciting partnerships with charity partners as we approach our 50 th year next year. I hope other business leaders will join me in supporting the Mayor’s efforts."

Jayne Hussey, partner and head of the Birmingham office, Mills & Reeve, said: "The stats don't lie. Education and skills are a priority for our region. The mayor clearly believes the same. Too many of our region's young people are falling between the cracks. Youth unemployment currently stands at 16.1 per cent in the West Midlands, compared to 13 per cent nationally.

"The West Midlands also has one of the highest proportions of 16 - 24 year olds not in education, employment or training in the UK. There is undoubtedly a huge amount of untapped talent in our region - and we, as a business community, must work with the mayor and others to unlock it.

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"Working to identify where local business' priorities align with the mayor's new plan, is vital if we are to make meaningful change and create opportunities that support economic growth as well as the life chances of our young people. If we don't, we put at risk not only the future of our young people, but also the long term prosperity of our region."

Rob Perrins, Chief Executive of Berkeley Group, added: “We are proud to support the youth unemployment plan for the West Midlands. Social mobility is a key priority for our business and, like the Mayor, we believe every young person should have the opportunities and support they need to secure a good job and a rewarding career.

“This far-reaching plan will improve the life chances for many more young people across the region and we look forward to playing our part alongside our fantastic local partners including the WMCA, Birmingham City Council and The Skills Centre."

And Jon Howlin, CEO of The Skills Centre said: "The Mayor’s youth employment plan aligns closely with our mission to transform lives by bringing local opportunities to local people. Collaboration between employers, training providers, and local authorities is essential for delivering relevant skills training that meets this goal."

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