Training boost for Sandwell students

New Sandwell Youth Hub gives young people access to training and career opportunities.

Young people from Sandwell are to benefit from a new package of support to give them access to training and career opportunities.

A new youth hub at Sandwell College is offering practical advice and support to young people aged 16-29 who are unemployed or at risk of losing their job, or leaving school, college or university.

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street and Nicola Richards, MP for West Bromwich East, officially opened Sandwell Youth Hub in a virtual event.

This is one of six Youth Hubs being set up in the region as part of the Youth Offer that the West Midlands Combined Authority has developed with Jobcentre Plus, local authorities, the voluntary sector and local employers.

The hub brings together partners to join up local employment and training services, so that young people can gain the support they need in one place to access jobs and skills opportunities.

It has been set up by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) working in partnership with the WMCA, Sandwell Council, Sandwell College, and key local employer Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust.

Young people will benefit from services including advice from work coaches, links with local employers, training opportunities such as apprenticeships, tips on managing money, and support with retraining. The hub will provide virtual support while the college buildings are closed during the national lockdown.

The Mayor said: “We know all too well that young people are being hardest hit as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, with many of the sectors they work in severely affected by the lockdown.

“So it’s critical that we do all we can to help our young people get back into work as quickly as possible if they have sadly lost their jobs, as well as helping those who are looking to take their first step into employment. Youth Hubs are a great example of how the WMCA and its partners are doing exactly that.

“Sandwell Youth Hub will make a massive difference to the lives of local young people, ensuring that they have access to the help, support, advice and guidance they need to get them into work.”

Nicola Richards MP said: “Sandwell Youth Hub will be incredibly important as the career and training opportunities of the future become available. While university and higher education have been conventional routes for young people to follow, there are good alternative options for them to develop their skills, such as traineeships and apprenticeships.

“The past year has been really difficult for everyone, especially for young people, so this Youth Hub couldn’t have come at a better time. We have to work now to raise the aspirations of young people and link them to the work that is around them. I’m really excited about the projects the Youth Hub will be running, including mentoring, talent matching, work experience and targeted help to make sure every young person has the skills needed to get a job.”

Madison Clark, aged 19, from West Bromwich, said: “I left college last year and there weren’t many job opportunities because of the pandemic, so I had to go onto Universal Credit.

“I was able to land my first job, a temporary Christmas job in a department store, with the support of my work coaches. I’m now starting a Higher Employability Programme thanks to the advice I’ve had through Sandwell Youth Hub. My ambition is to get a science-related job, and the training helps young people to gain knowledge and experience in a skilled field to increase our chances of employment and other opportunities.

“The youth coaches at Sandwell Youth Hub have been amazingly supportive with answering my questions and guiding me in the best way possible, focusing on a long-term plan rather than a quick solution.”

Alison Newell, DWP service leader, Black Country district, said: “Local, tailored support is a huge focus for us at DWP – putting job centres at the heart of communities, boosting young people’s confidence and helping them to tackle barriers.

“Giving young people skills training is vital in helping them to compete for the jobs that will be offer, and this is why Sandwell Youth Hub is so important. The hub will be both a drop-in and a digital service for all our young people who need to access support.”

Sandwell Council’s Deputy Leader Councillor Maria Crompton said: “It is really important that our young people are given access to high-quality, independent careers advice and guidance. There are many routes in to education, employment or training and it is vital that young people are given the opportunity to select the path that is right for them. I’m delighted that the Youth Hub will be operating in our borough as it will supplement the excellent advice services we currently have in the council.”

Graham Pennington, principal of Sandwell College, said: “As a time of Covid recovery it’s really important for partnerships to come together to deliver life chances for young people and adults. Sandwell College welcomes partnerships working with WMCA, DWP, Sandwell Council and others to bring together local services that support people into work or opportunities for retraining.

“The pandemic has had a huge impact on young people across the borough, particularly for students who have had to face unprecedented challenges – and we know that it can be overwhelming to take your first step on the career ladder amidst so much uncertainty. That’s why it’s so important that young people have the support they need to access vital employment and skills training. There’s a wide range of advice and guidance available and I’d encourage people to find out more.”

Youth Hubs are part of the following Youth Offer that the WMCA has developed with Jobcentre Plus, local authorities, the voluntary sector and local employers:

– Free careers advice
– Access to vocational training with a focus on training that leads to jobs
– Hundreds more dedicated Jobcentre Plus work coaches
– Access to funded work placements through the Government’s Kickstart scheme
– Access to apprenticeships
– More support to become self-employed

This is a crucial part of the WMCA’s plan to drive the region’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic by equipping young people with the skills they need to land jobs in growth sectors.

Click here to find out what support is available through Sandwell Youth Hub to help young people gain access to work and training opportunities.