Walsall council’s flagship policy to help 550 young unemployed people find work has found apprenticeships for only 58 youngsters in its first year of operation, claim local Labour members.
The two year “Walsall Works” programme was launched with national publicity last year promising it would crack youth unemployment in the borough and formed a major element of Conservative promises during the May elections.
But despite over 1000 young people registering their interest in the scheme, the council has found work places for only 58, according to figures uncovered by Walsall Labour party.
Announcing the scheme last January Conservative Councillor Adrian Andrew, Walsall Council cabinet member for regeneration, said: “We’re hugely proud of the Walsall Works project….. We calculate we can help up to 225 young people aged 16 to 18 and a further 50 19 to 24-year-olds per year. …That’s something to be proud of.”
However, figures uncovered by Labour councillor for Darlaston South, Doug James, show that since it was announced 1029 young people have signed up for the scheme but only 58 have been found work placements.
Cllr James said: “When this scheme was announced by the Conservative run council I, like my Labour colleagues, welcomed it, not least because youth unemployment in my ward alone was running above 30 percent.
“But a year on and the Conservatives have failed to deliver on the promise they made to young people. Hundreds of youngsters who registered their interest in this scheme have had their hopes of finding a job cruelly dashed.
There is no way this Conservative/Lib Dem council now deliver those 550 jobs. It’s something it should be ashamed of.”
Cllr James had hoped to reveal the figures at the recent council meeting where Conservative cabinet members awarded themselves £55,000 pay rise but was stopped from doing so.
He added “This council has failed young people at every level; from early education to at risk youngsters in council care. It can’t be allowed to fail them yet again. So therefore, I have written to the council’s chief executive asking for an explanation of this appalling state of affairs and asking how we can salvage the scheme so at least some of the young people who pinned their hopes of finding a job on it, are helped.”