£4.5m to boost youth employment

A £4.5million employment programme has been unveiled to help North East businesses to future-proof their workforce and tackle youth unemployment.

Over the next three years, Generation NE — a collaboration between five local authorities and the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP) — will support the region’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to strengthen their businesses by increasing employment opportunities for up to 2,000 young people.

To mark the launch of the programme, Northumberland, Newcastle, Durham, Gateshead and North Tyneside councils hosted a discussion at Accenture on Friday to show how SMEs can benefit from engaging with young people and how it could be made easier for companies to give young people a chance.

Among the business leaders who participated in the debate were representatives from Accenture, James Burrell, Royal Mail, Gordon Brown Law Firm, Wessington Cryogenics, the North East Chamber of Commerce, the North East LEP and Jobcentre Plus.

Employability and Inclusion Lead for the Combined Authority and Northumberland County Council Leader Grant Davey said: “The launch of Generation NE will help ensure that all young people in the region believe they can, and have the ability, to secure a job.

“Investing in the workforce of tomorrow is one of the most effective ways for companies to strengthen their business. Generation NE will help facilitate this by working with employers to provide a simplified, coordinated and tailor-made package of high quality support, as well as one-to-one advice on how they can increase the opportunities that they provide for young people.

“To launch the programme we brought together a number of key business owners and leaders in the youth employment agenda to discuss the issues that matter most to small and medium-sized businesses when it comes to future-proofing their workforce.”

The £4.5million programme, which forms part of the NELEP’s Growth Deal, aims to create sustainable employment for young people aged between 17 and 24.

NELEP Business Support Board Joint Chairman Gill Southern said: “It’s essential that small businesses are given expert support to employ more young people who are the future lifeblood of their companies and the wider North East economy.

“The £4.5million investment into Generation NE through the NELEP’s Growth Deal is aimed at helping strengthen companies by offering a brighter future of job opportunities to local young people keen to get on the employment ladder.”

Generation NE’s team of dedicated business advisors will help companies to make connections with the region’s next generation. By offering a simplified, responsive and co-ordinated service, in partnership with Jobcentre Plus, the collaboration hopes to expand the number of opportunities available to young people.

For more information on Generation NE visit www.generationne.co.uk or call 0191 598 7458.