New initiative launched to tackle the once in a generation employment challenge

The Covid-19 pandemic presents the largest and most profound challenge in the employment market in a generation and Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is looking to tackle it head on.

There are now 49,500 people of working age claiming out of work benefits in West Yorkshire, an 87% increase compared with the pre-lockdown period in March 2020. Around 380,000 people in West Yorkshire – or 26% of the region’s working age population – have low or no qualifications and are disadvantaged in the labour market.

One of the hardest hit groups is young people, who saw schools shut, exams cancelled and therefore helping them build essential skills and keep developing is a serious challenge and key to the economic recovery.

As a result the LEP has launched extra support through its FutureGoals initiative providing online help for those in danger of finding themselves not in education, employment, or training.

The programme aims to empower school leavers by providing inspiration and information their future career or training options. Accessed Bia the FutureGoals website the support includes an Employment Hub service that matches job seekers to local employers; tailored careers support; tips to start a business; links to universities and colleges courses; inspirational videos; apprenticeship support and home learning activities to gain new skills, practice interview techniques and create a C.V.

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and leader of Bradford Council said: “The impact of COVID-19 has seen many of our young people out of education, at a time crucial to their future development, causing them to feel worried and uncertain about their next steps.

“It is vital for our economic recovery that our future workforce is supported with clear guidance to develop the skills needed to succeed in their careers.”

Mae Presley, a year 10 student from Leeds said: “Being aged 14 during a global pandemic and having to learn from home hasn’t been easy. At first, I enjoyed having time at home, but I quickly realised that missing so much school could have a huge effect on my future and that felt quite worrying.

“Being able to find advice and resources on FutureGoals has really helped me understand my options. I’m hoping to start an engineering apprenticeship when I leave school next year and through FutureGoals, I’ve realised I can get that support through the LEP’s Employment Hub.”

Alongside the support for young people are free resources to equip teachers and parents with home-learning activities to help young people develop skills for their future careers, which are all based on local labour market information and linked to employer needs and the most in-demand roles for West Yorkshire.

Parents, carers, educators and young people can find more information at: futuregoals.co.uk/education-and-training

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