Responding to Andy Street’s statement about youth unemployment made earlier this week, Beverley Nielsen, Lib Dem Mayoral Candidate for the West Midlands, said:
“Eradicating youth unemployment will be on everyone’s to-do list."
Image Credit: J J Ellison | CC-BY-SA 3.0
“Andy is clearly using his previous role to gather information: I wonder if he has walked around Wolverhampton, Dudley and Sandwell to get the real picture of what is going on.
“The self-evident fact is there is much more to do to sort this out. With almost three quarters of employers telling us that school curriculum is too narrow, that school leavers need more support to be work ready and with many employers ignoring the recruitment of young people until they are older than 19, the Conservatives are once again taking information out of context. This together with their refusal to ban unpaid internships suggests that their intentions for young people are much less beneficial to anyone other than foreign owned corporations looking for cheap labour
“Schemes like the Work Coaches Programme are all well and good but only if they help young people into sustainable employment and career progression. We don’t want to end up simply shuffling people from one list of statistics to another.
“I would be very interested to see Andy’s figures on how many young people, who have secured jobs through LEP projects, are now earning above minimum wage and have been promoted. Is the Conservative Mayoral candidate seems to be claiming that increased recruitment by companies desperate for local talent was down to Conservative policy?
“The Liberal democrats will provide real opportunities for young people: in work and seeking work. We will address the issues faced by local employers who are finding the transition to apprenticeship levy does nothing to help them meet their growing skills needs.
“If employers are faced with university graduates with insufficient analytical, communication or team working skills, we are equally faced with serious, economically undermining issues requiring a huge concerted effort.
“I look forward to the chance to meet with Andy face to face to discuss youth unemployment and other issues. He has laid down the gauntlet but when we responded that we were ready, he has gone silent.
“The West Midlands has a golden opportunity to make its own success, to become self-made, but only by doing what is right for local people and businesses: not manoeuvring statistics or by following political ideology.
“The people of the West Midlands are sick of Punch and Judy politics: they recognise the interests that the Mayoral candidates serve and I look forward to publishing our manifesto later this month so voters can see which party is truly representing their needs."