The Mayor of the West Midlands has been out and about talking to young people in Wolverhampton as part of a drive to showcase new career opportunities.
The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has commissioned an outreach summer programme – called the Find Your Future Street Team – to raise young people’s awareness of work, training and education opportunities.
The Street Team, which is made up of young people under the age of 25, is out and about across the region to find out what young people think of their career prospects after the pandemic, and show them some of the opportunities that are available.
These include work and volunteering opportunities related to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, plus the national Kickstart scheme and apprenticeships.
The Mayor joined the Street Team today at Wolverhampton Bus Station to talk to local young people about these opportunities and their hopes for the future – as well as to encourage those who are eligible to get their Covid-19 vaccine.
He said: “It has been fantastic to chat to young people and hear about their experiences, as well as to encourage greater vaccine take-up. We know that their generation has been the hardest hit economically by the pandemic, and this is an especially difficult time for those who are awaiting their exam results next week and not sure about what to do next.
“But there is hope for the future. As part of my 100,000 jobs plan we’re working tirelessly with our partners to create new opportunities for young people. For example, the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will create up to 35,000 jobs and around 13,000 volunteering opportunities across the West Midlands. And there are more than 6,000 Kickstart vacancies in the region, enabling businesses to employ talented and eager youngsters at the start of their career, with Government covering the cost.
“Apprenticeships are also a great alternative to university or college, and we’re holding an apprenticeships webinar featuring nearly 20 employers on Monday 17 August to show young people how to gain access to these opportunities.”
To register for the apprenticeships webinar, visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/careers-and-opportunities-roadshow-apprenticeships-virtual-event-tickets-163610454273
Members of the Street Team include young people on the Kickstart scheme, which funds employers to create six-month paid jobs with local employers for 16- to 24-year olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long-term unemployment.
Kit Showande, director of Aspire4u CIC, one of two organisations commissioned by the WMCA to deliver the Street Team programme, said: “It’s great to have young people at the heart of leading their own solutions to developing stronger relationships with each other on the subject of jobs, careers and getting ready for their futures. The Find Your Future summer of activities is packed with social media engagement, conversations and collaboration with young people, coupled with real-life relationship building with the outreach teams.
“Under our LyfeproofUK youth brand we have been listening to young people, who have told us they want to be part of the solutions. The WMCA has enabled us to help young people to help each other. This versatile model of digital and face-to-face engagement is the future for young people to gain jobs, increase their resilience, and improve wellbeing in our communities.”
Street Team member Sammy Khan, aged 17, said: “Outreach has opened our eyes to issues we never realised were happening to other people outside our friends’ groups and in other local areas. This gives us all a drive to help do our bit and keep bringing opportunities to each other. Teenagers like me are more trusting of other young people when they know you have lived through challenges yourself and you are bringing them something genuine.”
The WMCA has developed a Youth Offer with Jobcentre Plus, local authorities, the voluntary sector and local employers to give young people greater access to opportunities. As well as the Street Team, the offer includes Youth Hubs being set up across the region and an online Youth Employment Platform to signpost young people to all the opportunities.
Cllr Ian Brookfield, leader of City of Wolverhampton Council and WMCA portfolio holder for the economy, chairs a WMCA taskforce focused on improving opportunities for young unemployed people.
He said: “There is £4.4 billion of investment on site or in the pipeline in the City of Wolverhampton and it’s vital that local young people benefit from this economic growth and the jobs being generated, as the region recovers from the impact of the pandemic. It’s great that the Street Team are going out and about to showcase work and career opportunities to young people.”
The Find Your Future Street Team is part of the Summer Careers Festival 2021, which is a series of virtual and physical events for young people, offering advice and guidance on topics including careers advice, employment and health and wellbeing. The festival is funded by the WMCA.
For more information about this and other opportunities available for young people across the region, visit https://www.youthemployment.org.uk/employment-help-young-people/youth-friendly-places-in-the-uk/west-midlands/
Image caption: L-R Street Team members Jemima Tshiangala and Kieran Jones, Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street, Cllr Ian Brookfield, leader of City of Wolverhampton Council, and Street Team members Leah (Lyriqe) Ellis, Lala Saleh and Sammy Khan