Jobs – the next decade?

Wakefield Fire Sevice's arson task force are cleaning up Portobello estate in an attempt to stop people starting fires.'Coun Olivia Rowley with a copy of the information pack being posted to residents on the estate.
Wakefield Fire Sevice's arson task force are cleaning up Portobello estate in an attempt to stop people starting fires.'Coun Olivia Rowley with a copy of the information pack being posted to residents on the estate.

IT could take Wakefield seven years before employment rates are back to the same level they were in 2007, according to a new report.

Making sure young people are trained for the right jobs will be a difficult task for Wakefield Council, which is responsible for education.

The city has seen a rise in unemployment during the past four years, with 20 percent of 16 to 24-year-olds currently out of work.

What needs to be done during the next ten years to make sure the city produces a skilled workforce was discussed at a council cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

In his budget speech, council leader Peter Box described the latest youth unemployment figures as “frightening”.

Cabinet members said the withdrawal of Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA), which benefits 4,300 16 to 19-year-olds, will make life more challenging as some students get up to £30 a week.

Coun Maureen Cummings said: “It will affect those people who are willing to get on the ladder but who won’t be able to because they can’t afford the bus fare to college.”

The cabinet report said the district will need to carefully manage learning so teenagers gain relevant qualifications for jobs which will be on offer in the future.

In Wakefield, employment is expected to be strongest in transport, health, construction, retail, wholesale and business services, but jobs in the public sector, such as education, will be scarce.

The government said it hopes to mitigate the effect of axing EMA by enhancing provisions for those most disadvantaged.

But Coun Olivia Rowley said: “The government is talking about something to replace it but we haven’t heard anything about it.

“When anything is withdrawn in an area with high deprivation levels, it’s another hit to us.

“There’s a big question mark over the generation of people who won’t have that opportunity of employment.

“There’s real concern about this lost generation and we will also see lots of reductions in youth services so it’s a combined whammy – it’s horrendous.”