New Mersey hub to help young people into work

Social enterprise Merseyside Community Training has secured funding from the Government’s Flexible Support Fund to help hundreds of young adults in Wirral back into work. Tony McDonough reports

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Merseyside Community Training will aims to help young adults in Wirral back into work


Social enterprise Merseyside Community Training has secured a Government grant to help hundreds of young adults in Wirral back into work.

Based in Birkenhead, the not-for-profit organisation will use the Flexible Support Fund (FSF) grant from the Department of Work and Pensions to set up the Wirral Youth Employment Hub.

It will bring together partner organisations across Wirral to support long-term out-of-work young people back into sustainable jobs and help them create their own start-up businesses. Over the coming 12 months, it will provide training and employment opportunities for 300 out-of-work young people, aged between 18 and 24.

The hub’s programme will focus on Wirral’s disproportionate number of disadvantaged and disengaged young people – in particular, those living in and around Birkenhead – who have always faced barriers to employment.

By supporting them into work, the initiative will also address the issue of helping to boost the local economy, already flagging under the weight of COVID-19 restrictions. Last year, more people on Wirral claimed out-of-work benefits than the national average, the number claiming support – at more than 6% of the population – calculated to be more than 10,000.

However, figures show that each time an out-of-work claimant moves into a job at the Living Wage, the local economy benefits, on average, by £14,436 a year. Oliver Sumner, chief executive at Merseyside Community Training, said: “For the first time there’s now some light at the end of the tunnel to reduce the disproportionate number of young people on Wirral facing a future without much hope of a job.

“This contract awarded by the Department for Work and Pensions means our new Wirral Youth Employment Hub can set to work on redressing the balance. It will give disadvantaged youngsters growing up in hard-hit places such as Birkenhead a chance to make something of their lives, to work and to contribute and help sustain the local economy.”

Merseyside Community Training is based at the Environmental Innovation Centre in Campbeltown Road. It was originally formed four years ago to set the most disadvantaged young unemployed people on Wirral on the road to employment by offering them work experience placements with local organisations.

Since then it has expanded its operation by delivering community-based projects which have social value as well as making an impact on the local economy. Supporting the projects are Wirral Youth Employment Hub partners and DWP work coaches, working on-site to deliver both virtual and face-to-face training courses.

A number of young people are already being helped to set up their own businesses through Merseyside Community Training’s Young Entrepreneurs Academy. After pitching their entrepreneurial ideas earlier this year to business leaders and professionals, they are now receiving practical help, advice and guidance from existing local entrepreneurs.

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