Connexions gives help and advice to young people who are unemployed and are looking for work, college or training. They also help young homeless people, pregnant teenage girls and teenage parents.
UNISON argued all along that to make cuts to this service when youth unemployment is at an all-time high and still rising was morally wrong, reckless and irresponsible and finally Birmingham City Council have listened.
UNISON Convenor Charlie Friel said
We are really pleased to hear this news, which has come about through months of campaigning, multiple strike days and media pressure on the council. At a time when youth unemployment is at record levels, it is madness to close the service which helps young people to find work or training.
This is really good news for our members who been put the emotional wringer by this council for over 18 months. It’s a victory for our members, it’s a victory for common sense and it’s victory for the young people of Birmingham.
Youth unemployment nationally stands at 22%, but with Birmingham having some of the highest areas of unemployment in the UK, and being the youngest city with over 1/3rd of people under 25, it is expected that youth unemployment locally is higher.
Of course, this comes too late to save offices in Handsworth (unemployment: 21.7%), Erdington (unemployment: 12.9%) and Kings Heath (unemployment: 12.5%). We wait to hear if the planned closures of offices in Northfield (unemployment: 10.1%) and Yardley (unemployment: 10.4%) will go ahead.
Unemployment rates are for the parliamentary constituency which the office is in, and the data is taken from this parliamentary report from January 2012. Nationally the unemployment rate is around 8.4%, whilst the average for the 9 Birmingham constituencies is 12.8% – around 50% more than the national average, which suggests youth unemployment may be over 30% locally.
So more good news for 2012. Now we need to work from this to getting commitments the following the local elections, Connexions offices around Birmingham will be re-opened in order to help people in some of the hardest hit parts of the UK to find work and gain new skills.