Young people have identified seven priority areas they believe are essential to help the West Midlands recover from the effects of the pandemic.
These have been identified by the Young Combined Authority (YCA) which was set up to bring together local young people to guide and challenge the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).
The YCA has drawn up a paper of its ask and ambitions for the future of the West Midlands, in which it has highlighted the seven priority areas; culture and major events, skills, digital, environment, transport, housing and regeneration, and inclusive communities and wellbeing.
Aisha Masood, Co-Chair of the YCA Board
The YCA have now published their vision and priorities report in full and are working to share this with regional stakeholders.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands said: “The West Midlands has one of the youngest and most diverse populations in the country. So, as we strive to recover from the impact of the Coronavirus and build a cleaner greener future, with regeneration of derelict brownfield sites to help protect the greenbelt, better transport and good training and job opportunities for everyone in the region, input and ideas from young people from every community is vital.”
“That’s why the Young Combined Authorities Vision Statement is such an important contribution to our long-term plans and decision-making.
“The Young Combined Authority’s priorities rightly focus on some of the biggest challenges we face as a region – improving access to training and digital skills, building more homes that local people can afford, providing all communities with cultural opportunities, continuing to improve access to good transport and ensuring that as we recover from the pandemic and build back greener, there are great new job opportunities for young people from every community arising from our work to tackle climate change.”
“And it’s that ambition to make our region carbon zero by 2041, that’s quite rightly so important - not just for our young people, but for everyone. That’s why we’ve set out our first five year plan to help us achieve it – and the contribution of the YCA and all young people across the region is going to be crucial.”
Some of the changes the Young Combined Authority call for include involving young people throughout the development and delivery of cultural strategies and ensuring all major cultural events in the West Midlands will be significantly shaped by local young people.
They ask for businesses to create and promote more high-quality apprenticeship opportunities so that more young people can go straight from school into work or further education.
They also want to see the digital divide, which was highlighted by COVID-19, tackled to ensure all young people get equal access to education and development opportunities, and they ask for young people to be more involved in the development of transport policy.
In addition, they call for further action to increase the proportion of affordable housing in the West Midlands, in line with the WMCA’s definition of affordability, so that young people can get on the housing ladder.
Aisha Masood, Co-Chair of the YCA Board said: “We have created this vision document to outline our priorities for addressing the issues which affect young people living in the region and establish clear asks across key policy areas.”
“We have been frank about the changes we want to see happen. However, we have also been optimistic: hopeful that decision makers will act on this document and enable young people to build a bright future for our region.”
Councillor Brigid Jones as WMCA portfolio lead for inclusive communities, who is also deputy leader for Birmingham City Council said: “As big decisions are made about how we face up to the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic it is important that young people are involved in shaping regional policy.
“This paper shows us the direction the YCA wants the West Midlands to take.”
The YCA is now growing with the launch of the YCA Community, which will give a much wider group of young people the opportunity to get involved. It was designed to create an easy and flexible way for young people to share their views on WMCA’s plans and programmes, by inviting members to take part in online surveys and discussions. A welcome event for the YCA Community has been scheduled for 2 March 2021 and any young people who want to take part can sign up via https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/138401292993