A Surrey County Council drive to help tackle an ongoing issue of youth unemployment has reached its halfway target.
The initiative, which is part of national Youth Work Week aimed at addressing concerns over troubling ongoing statistics for young people across the country, will see the authority find placements for a total of 500 young people by next April.
Leader David Hodge unveiled Surrey’s scheme in offering businesses a cash incentive to hire apprentices following the success of a campaign launched last year found more than 200 roles for young people. To date, more than 220 employers have been handed the £750 grant to hire a teenage apprentice. This has seen the number of young people not in education, employment or training fall by half.
However, youth unemployment figures within some parts of the region have fared less successfully. Nationally, the number of young people out of work is around 1million, with fears remaining surrounding some parts of Kent and Sussex in terms of an urgent need to enhanced employment prospects for those within the 16-24 year old age bracket.
In Sussex last year, an average of over 7% of young people were claiming job seekers’ allowance, against a national picture of one in five 16-24 year olds in 2013 being unemployed, or not presently in training – which has fallen marginally from last year.
The worst affected age group is the 16-17 year olds category; with figures released in August showing that age group in parts of Sussex had a shocking 35% unemployment rate, while the wider employment figures for the county pointed towards a slowly improving picture, with 5,000 less people claiming job seekers’ allowance.
Meanwhile in Kent, the county council has injected £2million from its resources towards tackling youth unemployment. Figures showed 7.4% of young people were out of work, with Thanet being worst hit, where the figure was double this at nearly 14%.
Commenting on the Surrey scheme, Mr Hodge said: “It’s great news that we’ve already helped another 220 teenagers into the world of work after our last scheme saw employers rise to the challenge of giving 265 young people the opportunity to earn and learn on the job.
“Apprenticeships put young people on the path to a successful career, give businesses the skilled workforce they need to thrive and help the economy grow, which is why we’re pulling out all the stops to reach our target of 500 by next April.”