WMCA award grant to employment support pilot

Scheme to help disadvantaged into work given the go-ahead.

A scheme to help dozens of disadvantaged and long-term job seekers in Birmingham get into work has been given the go-ahead.

The Employment Support Pilot will give people tailored job advice and specialist support in the heart of their own community. The West Midlands Combined Authority has awarded Remploy a £1,053,174 contract to set up and deliver the three year scheme in Washwood Heath starting this summer. It has also awarded Shaw Trust £824,783 to do the same in Shard End.

The Washwood Heath and Shard End pilots are two of nine being set up in communities across the wider West Midlands where unemployment is high and levels of pay low.

The scheme, which is being funded by the WMCA using a £4 million Department for Work and Pensions grant, will also help equip low paid workers with the skills needed to land better jobs.

Cllr George Duggins, Leader of Coventry City Council and the WMCA’s portfolio holder for Productivity and Skills, said: “There are record numbers of jobs being created in the West Midlands but some people are still missing out. So I’m pleased to have Remploy and Shaw Trust on board and together help make sure that everyone in society has the chance to benefit from the job opportunities out there.”

The Birmingham schemes, along with the seven others across the region, will help up to 4,500 people find work, with an emphasis on supporting people in to better paid jobs. There will be a particular focus on young people, disabled people and other vulnerable groups.

The schemes are part of the wider transfer of powers and funding from Whitehall to the West Midlands following the region’s decision to form a combined authority, led by an elected mayor.

Cllr Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham City Council and a member of the WMCA board, said: “Birmingham and the wider region are going through an exciting period and the challenge is to ensure that as many people as possible are in a position to benefit from the jobs and opportunities being created.

“It’s clear that growth alone is not enough; we need inclusive growth and the Employment Support Pilot targets areas of high unemployment and low pay to give people the support, skills and confidence needed to make the most of the opportunities currently being created in this region.”

Nathan Weekes, Midlands Operation Manager for Remploy, added: “We are delighted to be delivering this innovative new Employment Support Pilot in partnership with the combined authority. We are passionate about making a difference to the lives of people in Washwood Heath, and look forward to providing specialist support embedded in the local community to help them find sustainable work.”

Kalpana Patel of the Shaw Trust, commented: “We are very excited to be involved in the Employment Support Pilot in Shard End which will support the local community to access the wealth of opportunities available here in the West Midlands.

“Currently our region is seeing rapid and sustainable growth and this scheme will support people locally to gain the skills and qualifications employers need, but more importantly to raise people’s aspirations so that they can share in the success that we, in the West Midlands, are experiencing. I believe this scheme will help to transform the lives of people across Shard End and benefit young people and adults for generations to achieve their potential.”

The location-based support is aimed at making it easier to engage with local residents and to encourage the communities themselves to use their existing social networks to help spread the word about the opportunities and support available.

Evidence suggests that neighbours, extended family members and others in the local community can be an effective channel for getting information to the right people.

The other seven schemes are in

• Birchills Leamore, Walsall

• Binley and Willenhall, Coventry

• Glascote, Tamworth

• Chelmsley Wood, Solihull

• Batchley and Brockhill, Redditch

• Camp Hill, Nuneaton and Bedworth

• Cannock North