One of the things I love about being a Prosepective Parliamentary Candidate (basically an aspiring MP) is that I get to meet all sorts of people and organisations doing fantastic things in Leicester West.
I recently visited two inspirational projects that are helping to give young people in this constituency the skills they need to get a job and get on in life.
First up was Leicester Stride: a social enterprise that trains young people, including through Labour’s Future Jobs Fund. This Fund is helping 1000 18 – 24 year olds in Leicester who’ve been unemployed for more than 6 months to get a job or training place.
Stride offers young people new skills in areas like construction, painting and decorating and motor mechanics. Its also got a brilliant community cafe and hair salon – both of which give a great deal to their customers, as well as catering and hairdressing skills for the young people who work there.
The next day, I went to the official opening of the Braunstone Skills Centre. Up to 200 children a week, from 12 schools, are now getting training in this wonderful new building. The Centre was backed by Government investment (£1.25m from the New Deal for Communities) but initiated and developed by the community itself. The Centre has been made possible by the hard work and sheer determination of the Braunstone Community Association – now called ‘B-inspired‘ – working alongside a range of local partners.
Making sure every young person in Leicester West has the opportunity, skills and confidence they need to get a job is absolutely vital to improving life chances in this constituency. Labour’s guarantee to young people who’ve been unemployed for more than 6 months of an education or training place for those aged up to 18 years, and a job or training place for 18 – 24 year olds, will make a big difference.
The challenge is going to be finding and engaging with the young people who really need this help. Too many still feel there simply aren’t any opportunities out there for them – so why bother trying to get qualifications and skills or find work? The Government, local Council and other official bodies need to work closely with local voluntary and community groups to reach out to individual young people to show them they can get training and jobs doing things they’re interested in and good at. That would be a guarantee worth having.