First published in the Saddleworth Independent
By Jasmine Jackson
OLDHAM Council is aiming to get more than 1,500 young people aged 16-24 into work over the next 12 months to tackle increased unemployment caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
As part of the Government’s Kickstart scheme, the council will provide 50 job placements in its own organisation, while also helping local businesses offer hundreds of job placements.
The £2billion national initiative was launched last September in response to the pandemic and the impact it is having on unemployment across the country.
As mentioned in Oldham Council’s November Labour Market Report, as of October 2020 the unemployment rate amongst 18 to 24-year-olds in Oldham was 15.2% – the worst in Greater Manchester.
That figure was 0.8% less than September when there were 3,100 young people aged 18-24 in Oldham unemployed – a rate of 15.6%.
The rate dropped again slightly by December, according to data from Oldham Council, and shows for those aged 18-24 in Oldham West and Royton there was an unemployment rate of 14.8%. The rate in Oldham East and Saddleworth was 14.6% and for Oldham Local Authority 14.4%.
Councillor Mohon Ali, who is leading the Kickstart scheme for Oldham Council, said: “This is a great opportunity for Oldham Council and local businesses to give a helping hand to many young people currently out of work.
“We must all work together in Oldham to tackle this problem.
“The council is playing its part by providing 50 jobs, but I am calling on all Oldham businesses, however large or small, to find out more about this scheme and to get involved.”
Figures from the House of Commons Library show there were 3,335 claimants aged 16-64 in March 2020 on Universal Credit and Job Seekers Allowance in Oldham East and Saddleworth, compared to 6,040 (9.2%) in December.
Oldham West and Royton saw a higher rate at 9.6%, with 6,445 claimants, compared to 3,605 last March.
Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, said the Government should be doing more to tackle these worrying figures.
She said: “Britain had the worst recession of any major economy because of this Government’s incompetence and indecision.
“Redundancies have reached a record high while unemployment continues to rise, yet the Government’s £2 billion Kickstart Scheme has created just 2,000 jobs.
“The Government must act urgently to secure our economy, protect jobs and get Britain back on the path to recovery, including cancelling the pending cut to Universal Credit and council tax hike.”
Statistics from the ONS and the House of Commons Library show the UK unemployment rate for September to November 2020 was estimated at 5% while the unemployment rate of those aged 16-24 was 14.2%.
The House of Commons briefing paper states there were 181,000 unemployed young people in the UK in full-time education during this time.
However, there were 410,000 people aged 16-24 who were unemployed between September and November and not in full-time education – an increase of 60,000 compared to the year before.
The Kickstart scheme aims to tackle this increase and get young people back to work, already providing 120,000 fully-subsidised jobs across the country.
A UK Government spokesperson said: “We know young people have been particularly affected by the pandemic, and we are committed to ensuring that a generation of young people in Oldham and beyond are not left behind.
“Our Plan for Jobs is creating hundreds of thousands of jobs for 16 to 24-year-olds as we seek to build back better.”
Anyone aged 16-24 on Universal Credit is eligible for the scheme and will be referred to by their Job Centre Plus work coach.
Any Kickstart jobs must be new, offer a minimum of 25 hours per week over six months, and shouldn’t require any extensive training prior to anyone carrying out a placement.
The Government is also using other initiatives to help young people, including an increased number of traineeships and sector-based work academy placements, as well as £32 million to recruit more career advisors for the National Careers Service.