South Tyneside jobs task force’s success in spotlight

CONCERN ... former South Shields MP, David Miliband.
CONCERN ... former South Shields MP, David Miliband.

The success of a task force set up to tackle South Tyneside’s soaring youth unemployment levels were due to come under scrutiny tonight.

Back in early 2012, deep concern was expressed by then-South Shields MP David Miliband and senior council leaders over the levels of borough 18 to 24 year-olds on the dole.

In February of that year, the number in that age group receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance was 2,290 – 17.6 per cent.

That led to the council establishing a taskforce to bring together the public and private sector to look at different ways of tackling youth unemployment.

Membership of the task force included JobCentre Plus, the Port of Tyne, Siemens, South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust, the National Apprenticeship Service and the Skills Funding Agency.

And work was undertaken to review the availability and promotion of apprenticeships to attract more young borough residents to take up opportunities with local employers.

The council also funded a youth employment scheme, encouraging small businesses to recruit 18 to 24-year-olds who had been out of work for three months or more.

Since its launch, the scheme has helped create 435 new jobs, of which almost 300 were apprenticeships, members of South Tyneside’s Council will be told tonight.

As of July this year, the number of our young people receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance was 1,125 – 8.8 per cent – representing a fall of 1,165 in two and a half years.

The report says: “As the economic recovery gathers pace and businesses become more confident about their trading position, they will look to grow their operations and workforce.

“The council and its partners will continue to have a major role to play in ensuring that our young people can compete for new jobs in our existing, strong areas of economic activity such as advanced engineering and manufacturing.

“The City Deal partnership with Sunderland City Council to develop an international advanced manufacturing park reinforces the importance of our efforts in those areas.”

The full council was due to meet at South Shields Town Hall from 6pm.

Twitter @shieldsgazpaul