Hundreds of work coaches are being recruited to boost employment in the West Midlands as part of a new package of support focused on training and reskilling jobseekers, and getting the region back to work.
West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and the Department for Work and Pensions are joining forces to provide targeted support to match jobseekers with vacancies, ensuring they have the skills to meet local demand as businesses reopen. Vacancies for 300 work coaches are due to go live over the coming days – with local people encouraged to apply for roles.
The new work coaches, part of a huge nationwide recruitment effort, will give claimants localised and tailored support to help them move towards and into work, with services delivered through jobcentres and outreach activities, at the heart of local communities. The WMCA will be using its £130m training budget to make sure that local people have the skills needed to secure new roles.
The DWP and the Combined Authority will allocate up to £4 million through the Flexible Support Fund, to help overcome barriers that may prevent people from returning to work quickly.
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Jobs are at the heart of the West Midlands’ plan to bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic, and we must do everything we can to either keep people in work or help to those who fall out get back in as fast as feasibly possible. This is particularly important for young people.
“By matching jobseekers to vacancies, helping people to improve their skills through specialist training, and offering tailored support; work coaches and the newly announced Youth Hubs will help to achieve exactly that.
“This announcement builds on the already great work going on across our jobcentres across the West Midlands, which are helping to support our unemployed get back into work.”
As part of the West Midlands offer, six Youth Hubs will be set up in local areas, helping to join up local employment and training services and make sure that these are targeting young people.
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said: “We’ve been there for people who have lost jobs or have reduced hours in this pandemic, helping them support their families by promptly processing new claims and getting money into the accounts of those in urgent need within days.
“Now we’re switching our focus to Getting Britain Back into Work.
“To do that, we need more dedicated people to join us as work coaches and move to the frontline of our national effort to revive our jobs market. We supported record employment in this country just a few months ago, and we're determined to hit those highs again in time.
“To do so, we'll need partnerships exactly like this one to help us get the right support to people – in this instance, support that’s right for the people of the West Midlands and the jobs market that’s here.”
Cllr Ian Brookfield, WMCA portfolio lead for economy and innovation and leader of City of Wolverhampton Council, said: “We welcome this move to introduce more work coaches on a regional level.
“Speaking from my experience of the successful Wolves at Work programme, that the DWP work on with the Council in Wolverhampton, I can vouch for the huge difference work coaches make to helping people find and sustain employment.
“In our recovery from the pandemic, we must do everything we can to support everyone into work and the youth hubs will be a major boost to helping our young people in this area.”
The scheme follows the roll out of Youth Employability Advisers across the region’s jobcentres to help young people tackle barriers to employment by building their skills and qualifications.
With more than 2.5 million claims for Universal Credit processed since mid-March across the country, the Department is shifting its focus to getting Britain working again, with jobcentres gradually and safely set to see more people face to face.
Cllr George Duggins, WMCA portfolio lead for productivity and skills and leader of Coventry City Council said: “Many people, especially young people, have been affected by the economic impact of the pandemic, working in sectors that have been badly hit. Introducing work coaches will not only create more jobs, it will help to get more people back into work.”
The announcement follows the Prime Minister’s speech earlier this week setting out the Government’s commitment to levelling up the UK as parts of the hospitality sector reopen from today.