Plans targets Barnsley’s jobless young

Barnsley councillor Roy Miller.
Barnsley councillor Roy Miller.

A drive to cut back high numbers of young people without education, jobs or training has been launched in Barnsley.

Over five per cent of 16 to 18-year-olds are currently in that category in the town - the third highest in England.

An action plan has been approved by councillors to tackle the problem in tandem with a range of national programmes.

It seeks to increase numbers of students achieving five good GCSEs, while increasing numbers of work experience, traineeship and apprenticeship opportunities,

There will also be moves to help young people and their families to develop a positive attitude to work and the benefits it brings.

Work will be carried out with the town’s six area councils to help develop employability skills, while highlighting the training benefits of apprenticeships.

But a council report identified problems to be dealt with if more 16 to 24-year-olds were to be put back on the right track.

Too many could not get onto apprenticeship or traineeship programmes because they did not have the right skills.

The town had a high number of young people in low-skill or low-paid seasonal jobs who drifted in and out of work,

And the apprenticeship wage of £2.66 an hour for 16- to 18-year-olds was seen by some as unattractive and could affect a family’s entitlement to benefits.

Cabinet member Coun Roy Miller said: “This progress report shows the outlook in Barnsley is positive because we don’t suffer from the high levels of youth unemployment seen in other parts of the country - instead the issue to be tackled is raising skills levels.

“The report sets out the next steps to be taken – using the council’s resources to help tackle worklessness, engaging with area councils, improving skill levels from 16 upwards and increasing work experience and volunteering as pathways into employment.”

National initiatives are already providing incentives for employers when they recruit an eligible 18 to 24-year-old or offer work experience.

Work academies are run by Job Centre Plus offering pre-employment training, a work experience placement and a guaranteed job interview.

The report found that Barnsley was not short of apprenticeships - Barnsley College alone had provided 1,700 openings - but too many young people had too few qualifications.

The plan sets out strategies running until 2016.