Six figure sum agreed to support youth employment in Suffolk

The schemes were set up after the MyGo service was axed in Suffolk. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

The schemes were set up after the MyGo service was axed in Suffolk. Picture: PHIL MORLEY - Credit: Archant

A six figure sum has been earmarked to help continue youth employment projects in Suffolk following the closure of MyGo.

Suffolk Public Sector Leaders agreed £200,000 from business rates back in July 2018 to address youth unemployment, with that figure matched by Suffolk County Council.

It came after the MyGo centres in Ipswich and Lowestoft closed, with council bosses keen to pursue a series of schemes in each area of the county.

MORE: Ipswich MyGo centre closesLast week, the Suffolk Public Sector Leaders gathering of all council chief executives and leaders agreed to continue that work with another £200,000, once again matched by the county council.

Michael Gray, skills and employment manager at the county council, said: "There is a clear need for this. Although we know generally employment is high [in Suffolk] there is a disproportionate number of young people claiming benefits.

"There are pockets of low social mobility and youth employment is a cornerstone of economic growth."

According to Mr Gray, levels of youngsters considered NEET - not in education, employment or training - were higher in Suffolk than the national average, and the percentage claiming benefits was 4.5% of 18-25 year olds in the county compared to 2.6% for those aged 25 and over.

To date the cash has been split equally between Ipswich, East Suffolk, West Suffolk and Babergh and Mid Suffolk council areas, with the latest £200,000 also being split equally.

But Steve Gallant, East Suffolk Council leader, said there were nearly twice as many claimants in his district than in the west.

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He said: "If you, as a group of public sector leaders, want to make a significant difference to reducing the number of NEETs then you have got to put the money where the need is."

Other leaders argued that continuing to split the pot equally gave certainty to the projects being funded.

Each scheme is at different stages of its work, with some having already been underway a year while others are about to launch.

In Mid Suffolk, the Together Project has run sessions at The Mix in Stowmarket, featuring more than 300 people on a leadership course in the first eight months.

MORE: Lowestoft MyGo centre closesBabergh's project launched last month with West Suffolk College featuring work experience, online courses and counselling for a planned 125 youngsters.

In west Suffolk, the Haverhill Project has been ongoing for nearly a year, helping nearly half of its cohort into sustained employment or education and engaging with more than a third more youngsters than planned.

East Suffolk launched the Youth Employment Service in November, which works with existing businesses to find opportunities for those aged 16-24, while Ipswich launched the Youth Employment Programme in October working with existing providers like Inspire Suffolk and Volunteering Matters.

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