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Member Article

David Miliband addresses North East Youth Jobs Summit

David Miliband MP was joined in South Shields on Friday by an impressive audience of Local Authority Leaders, business leaders and young people that were themselves struggling to find work. It was clear that young people feel older generations have failed them, and that in the past offers, promises and announcements have failed to make a difference.

In 600 wards across the country 1 in 3 young people are not in employment, education or training. David Miliband was reflective enough to accept that the problems could not just be as a result of the double dip recession. He accepted that even in 2006 following a 4 year period of growth we still saw significant youth unemployment.

He pointed to the 3 big structural problems that in his view contributes to this. Firstly the preparation and motivation of young people for work is not as good as it should be. Young people are not being enthused and turned on. Secondly if you are not bound for university the alternatives are unclear, the quality of the offer and the engagement of business is insufficient. Thirdly when the state intervenes it is too late. The intervention takes too long and is too weak. This is particularly problematic for people leaving the care system, people with mental health problems and young carers.

There was a resolve that we have a responsibility to the next generation and that we must act now to stem a crisis that we cannot afford economically and in terms of the long term scar that youth unemployment causes.

James Turner of Big Lottery announced that around £10 million will be invested in the North East over the next 5 years aimed at tackling youth unemployment. A further £8 million will be directly targeted at supporting families with complex needs. The environment is ripe to create a timely and effective intervention. We can pilot a job guarantee approach in the North East, we can work together to rejoin the fragmentation of skills support to young people.

If every single audience member follow through with a pledge to mentor 1 young person that is out of the work then the combined weight of all of our address books and experience is bound to bear fruit. If we can persuade businesses to host an expo style approach to support young people when they are making career choices then links will be made with employers and schools will have a better understanding of the jobs that will be on offer in the future and the skills that will be needed to fill them.

For my part, I will be looking to some of the 4,760 charities in region, which between them employ 37,000 people in the North East to test the appetite for offering quality apprentiships to young people. We might not be in a strong position to offer jobs at the end of it but we must be able to offer work based training and experiences that will put young people in a better position to find a job.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by VONNE (Voluntary Organisations’ Network North East) .

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