Ken Skates, Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology
I wish to provide Members with an update on the performance of the Jobs Growth Wales programme.
2013 was a stellar year for Jobs Growth Wales and 2014 continues in the same vein, with figures for the programme exceeding our expectations. Our latest figures show that Jobs Growth Wales, the Welsh Government’s flagship youth employment programme, has broken through the 10,000 milestone in the number of jobs created and approved. The latest performance information published on 23 January 2014 shows that Jobs Growth Wales, which is part funded by the European Social Fund, has so far created 10,594 job opportunities, with 8,354 young people filling these jobs. The remainder of the job opportunities are currently going through the recruitment process.
In the programme’s largest strand, the private sector strand, 80 per cent of young people have progressed into sustained employment, an apprenticeship or further learning upon completion of their six month opportunity. This compares to a target of 70 per cent progression.
Success rates for the programme’s Third Sector and Graduate strands have also been maintained at similar levels as the statistics published in December. Data emerging from the Graduate strand is demonstrating an exceptional rate of progression with just 1% of young people taking part becoming unemployed after completion of their six month job opportunity.
A breakdown of the figures shows that the self-employment strand of the programme, the young entrepreneurs bursary, has already helped to create 200 new businesses since it began in April 2012. As a Government, we want to instil a culture of entrepreneurship in Wales so I am delighted that Jobs Growth Wales has helped 200 young people to start up their own business. This is well ahead of target with the number of applications for the young entrepreneurs bursary continuing to rise.
For Jobs Growth Wales as a whole, the proportion of young people who have progressed into employment as apprentices after completing their JGW opportunity has reached 25% - again, exceeding all expectations. Joining up our training and employability programmes is helping to create a progression path into skilled employment for young people. A success rate this high would be the envy of most governments across Europe.
This is a programme that is making a real, tangible difference to young people’s lives – giving them the relevant skills and experience they need to move into sustained employment. Jobs Growth Wales is offering young people a way of avoiding long term unemployment preventing them from suffering the damaging social and personal costs of prolonged periods spent out of work in their early adult life.
Employers of all sizes have told me how well Jobs Growth Wales participants have progressed since taking up their six month opportunities, and the difference that young people have made in helping them to expand their business. For many employers, Jobs Growth Wales was the very catalyst they needed to accelerate growth.
Feedback from young people has also been overwhelmingly positive. Many of the participants I have met struggled to find employment prior to taking part in Jobs Growth Wales, but their sixth month opportunity meant they avoided long-term unemployment. Now, as a direct result of that six month opportunity, many of them have found the permanent position they were looking for and continue to go from strength to strength.
Jobs Growth Wales is a pan Wales programme and is a key commitment within our Programme for Government. The programme is part-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF), of which £33M is already approved and a further £12M is being considered for further approval, result expected Spring 2014.
The success of the programme to date has meant that we have already announced a further £12.5 million in the Welsh Government’s budget to extend the programme for a fourth year – creating more than 4,000 extra job opportunities for unemployed young people. This extra funding will make a real difference to the lives of young people across Wales providing them with the experience needed to help them in their future careers. Jobs Growth Wales is delivering for our young people and I look forward to seeing further progress throughout 2014.
Jobs Growth Wales statistics are published on a monthly basis and I attach a link to the latest performance statistics. This includes the programme’s headline figures, a breakdown by strand and a breakdown of the number of jobs created and filled by Local Authority area in order that Members can assess performance in their own constituency areas. The statistics can be found online.