Newport summit tackles youth unemployment
1:04pm Tuesday 5th February 2013 in News
TOP Welsh politicians and employers gathered in Newport yesterday to tackle the increasing problem of youth unemployment.
Welsh Secretary David Jones told the Jobs Summit in Wales at the Lysaghts Institute that there were thousands of young people anxious to get their first job.
He called for Welsh and UK governments to work together to tackle the issue. Meanwhile first minister Carwyn Jones told the summit that figures on youth unemployment paint a troubling picture.
The number of 18-24 year olds in Wales on job seekers allowance for more than a year was reported to reach a 15-year high last September when it rose to 4,700.
Employers were told about different schemes run by the Welsh and UK governments to help get youngsters their first foot in the employment door, and were encouraged to sign a pledge to raise awareness of them.
Mr Jones told the summit that youth unemployment is still "unacceptably high", and said the problem had been growing since before the start of the economic crisis.
"We know there are many hundreds, thousands, of young people in Wales that are anxious to obtain that first job," he said.
First minister Carwyn Jones said tackling youth unemployment was a priority for the Welsh Government.
"We know that young people are disproportionally affected by any economic downturn," the first minister said.
"The latest statistics on youth unemployment paint a troubling picture."
Among the Welsh schemes to boost employment among young people is the £75 million Jobs Growth Wales programme, which aims to create 4,000 job opportunities for six months per year for people aged from 16 to 24.
Martin Brown of Jobcentre Plus said young people often face significant barriers in getting the experience they need - something the service is tackling with work experience schemes.
"If you talk to young people they will tell you that there are no jobs in retail, which is not true," he said, citing the recent opening of Marks and Spencer in Newport Retail Park.
Julie Dyson, director of nurseries at Chepstow-based St John's On the Hill, said her firm has five employees working with them through the Welsh Government's Jobs Growth Wales scheme.
She said: "It’s just finding those young unemployed that really do want to get into the workplace, have commitment and are prepared to meet you halfway."