A new city centre youth hub to help get young people into jobs, education and training has opened its doors.
The youth employment hub is located in the former Visit Leicester tourist information store, in Gallowtree Gate. Earlier this month (8 June), it opened to the public for the first time, offering advice to young people on jobs, apprenticeships, training schemes and college courses.
The project will offer tailored support and opportunities to young people in Leicester who are not in education, employment or training (NEET). The £4million initiative has been delivered by Leicester City Council, working with local training and enterprise partners that specialise in working with young people and young adults.
It is benefitting from £2million in funding after successful city council bids to the European Social Fund (ESF), with the rest of the money coming from the city council (£1.1m) and partners. The partners are Futures, which specialises in employability for 18 to 25-year-olds; the Youth Education Project; and Trans4m. All three have provided match-funding to be a part of the project, and all three will be able to provide more specialist training places and support for young people as a result of the ESF funding.
The project is also benefitting from a £100,000 support grant from the Department for Work & Pensions, and a JobcentrePlus work coach will be based at the hub to advise on jobs, training and Kickstart opportunities. Kickstart is a DWP-led scheme to help get young people aged 16 to 24, who claim Universal Credit, into meaningful jobs with local businesses.
The youth employment hub will be overseen by the city council’s Connexions service, which provides careers advice and support for 16-19-year olds who are NEET, and for young people aged up to age 25 if they have an education, health and care plan.
As well as working on traditional skills such as interview techniques and CV writing, young people who engage with the youth employment hub can get extra support if they need it. This could include help with online applications, someone to accompany them to a job interview, confidence-building techniques and help to break down any barriers to work that they might be facing.
There will also be an area in the hub for organisations who work with young people to book one-to-one meeting space with them.
Cllr Elly Cutkelvin, assistant city mayor for education, said: “It’s fantastic to see the youth employment hub open its doors in such a great location.
“Young people have been hit hard by the pandemic, which is why we’re investing in this long-term project to support them. Every young person should have the opportunity to achieve their ambitions.”
Cllr Danny Myers, assistant city mayor for jobs and skills, added: “We already have a proven track record of working with local employers, helping nearly 300 people into employment or apprenticeships through the work of our Leicester Employment Hub.
“Now, thanks to this new investment, we’re focusing in on young people who really need this support to get the skills and opportunities they need.
“By equipping local young people with the right skills, we will also encourage further investment into the city from employers and businesses, helping our local economy to grow and recover as we come out of the pandemic.”
Paul Gisbey, DWP Service Leader for Leicestershire & Northamptonshire, said: “The Youth Employment Hub will offer a great opportunity for more localised and tailored support for both young jobseekers and the vulnerable in society. We look forward to working with Leicester City Council and partners on this initiative to support the local economic recovery plan.”
Minister for Employment Mims Davies MP said: “Youth Hubs like this one in Leicester mean young people can access vital, suitable support, whether it’s through training or a move into employment.
“This is a challenging time and we are serious about investing, as this support grant shows. We want young people to reach their potential as we get Britain working again and move further into recovery.”
Over three years, the project plans to help more than 1,000 young people into employment, education or training. It will be open to all young people who are NEET, but it will particularly target groups of young people who are more likely to be NEET – such as young people leaving care, those with special educational needs and disabilities, or those from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.
The coronavirus pandemic has led to more young people becoming NEET. In February 2020, the number of young people aged 16-19 who were not in education, employment or training was 515 – 5.7% of all local young people in that age bracket. By February 2021, this had risen to 659, or 7.2%.