Public and private partnerships tackling youth unemployment

9 April 2014

Sue Holloway, Director, services strategy, Northgate Public services

920,000 young people unemployed, around 20% of the UK population. Alarming? Extremely!

Youth unemployment in the UK job market has been high on the agenda of Government, public and private sectors for some time. Despite considerable progress being made to generate employment opportunities and the recent budget announcement confirming more investment in creating youth apprenticeships, the numbers remain sky-high.

So how can Local Authorities create new opportunities for the young people of their locality, given their limited resources? One of the answers may lie in greater cooperative working between public and private sectors and Local Government service providers have a key role to play.

There has been a palpable rise in Local Authorities working with service providers to address the challenges of large scale budget cuts and deliver services differently. But are these partnerships doing enough? Service providers need to take on more social responsibilities and deliver real social outcomes, devoting a fair proportion of resources into wider social investment within a region if they are to be genuinely aligned to the long term vision of a Local Authority. One of the priorities should be creating training and job opportunities for young people alongside long term job creation to benefit the wider community.

One example of a successful cooperative relationship is the Hartlepool Academy, a collaborative venture between Hartlepool Borough Council, Northgate Public Services and Hartlepool College of Further Education, part of the council’s seven year ICT contract with Northgate.  The Council’s vision is to create more high-quality enterprises ensuring the town’s young people can secure jobs in Hartlepool. The Academy will deliver structured IT and business administration programmes for 35 apprentices developing skilled, qualified and job ready candidates for a range of roles within Northgate’s newly created Business Centre in Hartlepool, which itself is securing 235 jobs for the town. The Academy will also establish a community learning initiative to take tailored IT learning out into the community to reduce digital exclusion and the business centre will create 70 new jobs.

This initiative is a prime example of what can be achieved through cooperative working and innovative thinking as part of a wider partnership agreement. By combining the individual strengths and capabilities of both public and private sector organisations they are able to deliver a solution that will offer a host of training and job opportunities for young people and wider benefits for the community, on a scale that would not have been possible individually. This is only one illustration of the many ways in which public and private sector organisations can and must work together to address the increasing issue of youth unemployment and develop socially responsible solutions.