More than 1,000 unemployed young people in the West Midlands will be offered work placements in a bid to cut youth unemployment in the region.

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and work-placement charity “Movement to Work” (MtW) launched the placement programme last week which has already seen employers such as the British Army, BT, BUPA, Diageo, Marks & Spencer, Starbucks University Hospital Birmingham and the WMCA committing to provide 1,000 work placements for young people.

The WMCA has teamed up with the charity to deliver the national pilot of the Governments “Transition to Work” project, which aims to support unemployed young people into work.

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “Youth unemployment has proven to be a stubborn problem across the UK, but here in the West Midlands we are pioneering new approaches to help unemployed young people get into work.

“Movement to Work offers young people the chance to gain valuable work experience, with the opportunity to earn a job or apprenticeship at the end of their placement.

“We want to ensure young people have amazing opportunities to build their life here in the West Midlands, and this programme will aim to help 1,000 young adults get their foot firmly on the career ladder.”

The placements, which could lead on to job opportunities, are arranged through MtW and are designed to support young people into meaningful employment. They give young people the opportunity to build their skills and confidence, develop ambition and show potential employers what they are capable of.

MtW and its coalition of employers are working in partnership with the WMCA, 18 local authorities, four local enterprise partnerships, training providers and youth-outreach charities to create new employment opportunities for young people across the region.

Youth employment remains a challenge in the UK. The national youth unemployment rate was 11.8% in February 2019, compared with 4% for the whole population. In the West Midlands, 13.1% (14,000) of young people are currently unemployed*.

MtW is already showing that the work-placement approach is making a difference. The charity has delivered more than 80,000 work placements throughout the UK over the last five years and focusses mainly on young people who are not in education, employment or training (known as NEET). Over 50% of those who have completed a Movement to Work placement have gone into employment or back into education.

James Ashall, Movement to Work chief executive, said: “Employers across our network are piloting a number of schemes in the West Midlands, covering multiple sectors including retail, construction, digital, healthcare and hospitality. With a concrete commitment to provide more than 1,000 work placements from local employers, it really demonstrates how working in collaboration with local authorities and other partners makes a difference.

“We have worked with these employers on a national basis; not only do they know that supporting young people into work is the right thing to do, they know that it’s good for their business. These young people are incredibly loyal and mentoring them can be a real morale boost for your existing staff. It’s a win-win situation, and we hope that through these new regional partnerships, we can help some of those in greatest need of support.”

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Movement to Work is now looking for more employers to sign up to offer work placements for 18 to 30-year-olds in the region. For more information, please contact Rory Allbutt at Movement to Work ([email protected]) or Philip Tillman at the WMCA (p[email protected]).