Cash boost for jobs scheme to help young people

Councillor Steve Gallant

Conservative leader Steve Gallant said the extension of the service was crucial - Credit: East Suffolk Council

Fresh funding of more than £230,000 will allow East Suffolk’s “crucial” Youth Employment Service to continue for another two years as the district recovers from Covid-19.

The Youth Employment Service was formed in 2018 when the MyGo facility closed, supported by cash from Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Public Sector Leaders.

Run by Inspire Suffolk,  the service helps those aged 16-24 across the district into work, training, apprenticeships or additional education.

Up to the end of June, 909 youngsters had used the service with 406 having progressed into employment training or education.

East Suffolk Council’s cabinet has now agreed £230,267 to continue the service for another two years – the first year will continue with Inspire Suffolk’s current set-up with the second year going out to tender.

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Council leader Steve Gallant, said: “An extension of this vital service is, for me, crucial at this very strange time.

“It would be an absolute travesty I believe to end this now.”

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The service features employment engagement advisers working with youngsters, based in Lowestoft, Leiston and Felixstowe.

Caroline Topping

Caroline Topping, leader of the Green, Liberal Democrat and Independent group at East Suffolk Council - Credit: EAST SUFFOLK

However, Caroline Topping, leader of the Green group, said more needed to be done to promote the service with young adults in market towns and villages.

“I think we need more engagement,” she said. “I think we need to do more to get out there and into the market towns.”

Young adults to have found success with the service include those who struggled to access work because of the rural village they lived in, those who lacked confidence and suffered from social anxiety or needed to move into permanent work from temporary contracts.

One university graduate’s story shared with the council saw him rejected from 50 jobs before seeking support from the service, which helped him into work with the help of the employment coaching team.

Those who are not in employment, education or training (NEET) are among the priorities for the service, with 2,053 16-24-year-olds claiming Universal Credit and looking for work in the district, according to Department for Work and Pensions data.

Craig Rivett, East Suffolk Council deputy leader

Craig Rivett, East Suffolk Council deputy leader and cabinet member for economic development. - Credit: East Suffolk Council

Cabinet member for economic development, Craig Rivett said: “Virtual classrooms, redundancy, furlough – hopes and dreams of young people have been disrupted, stopped or postponed due to the pandemic.

“This [extension] will see we can achieve the best outcomes for 16-24-year-olds.”

Peter Byatt

Peter Byatt, leader of the Labour contingent at East Suffolk Council and councillor for Kirkley and Pakefield. - Credit: MAXINE CLARKE/EAST SUFFOLK LABOUR

Peter Byatt, leader of the Labour group, added: “It would be a complete no-brainer not to support the continuation of what is going on here.”

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