Business leaders across the Midlands have issued a united call to Government to do more to help get young people ready for the workplace in the aftermath of the Coronavirus crisis.
Unemployment is forecast to rise steeply over the coming months as support such as the Job Retention scheme begin to be phased out and companies assess the true damage that has been done by the crisis.
Young people are predicted to be the hardest hit and Chambers of Commerce across the Midlands are urging Government to link any investment in skills training with engagement with employers in order to meet the needs of business.
Chambers across the Midlands have more than 8,000 business members but also engage heavily with the education sector through schools, colleges and other educational establishments.
Across the region, Chambers have well over 300 partners from education including schools, colleges and universities but also work with education in a range of other ways. The East Midlands Chamber of Commerce holds School Forums to bring together employers and education, while Shropshire Chamber works as part of a wider network to connect education and business.
The Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce successfully launched Chamber Talent in 2019 and has a range of members from education, while education establishments are represented on Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber’s area councils.
Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce manages the Southern Staffordshire Schools Forum, which 25 schools attend, while Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce has 186 educational institutions as members.
Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said now, more than ever, it was vital that young people are equipped with the skills that will be needed as firms look to grow again out of the Coronavirus crisis.
She said: “The fall-out from the Coronavirus crisis is going to impact our economy for years to come and unemployment, which has remained very low over a sustained period of time, is expected to be one of the major issues.
“Young people are already disproportionately affected by unemployment and that is set to rise in the coming months.
“It’s vitally important, therefore, to listen to businesses when new programmes are being devised to help equip young people with the skills they need to get into, and stay in, the workplace.
“Chambers are a long-standing bridge between the business and the education sectors and we’d urged Government to tap into those links in order to ensure that the needs of employers and the practicalities of delivery are fully appreciated.
“Getting young people to be work-ready is not something that has been brought on by Coronavirus but tackling it will give us a solid foundation for rebuilding our economy in the aftermath of the crisis.”