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Chamber Wins Record 5.8m From Europe

The Chamber for Coventry and Warwickshire is celebrating record success in winning funds from Europe. The total for this year and next has now risen to almost 5.8-million.

Further bids are in the pipeline and, said chief executive Malcolm Gillespie:

"The biggest advantage of winning these extra funds is that they are can be devoted to projects which meet the priorities of Coventry and Warwickshire-not programmes decided on by central government.

"And to that can be added over 2-million we have won for special projects from the Single Regeneration Fund (SRB).

"All this will make a huge contribution to improving our people and advancing the economic welfare of our area."

The money from the European Social Fund is being added to expenditure of over 12-million by the Chamber of Commerce, Training and Enterprise across the two years.

As a result the projects being backed now amount to nearly a third of The Chamber's budget.

Largest undertaking is a renewed and determined assault on the large number of young people who leave school to go on the dole or take a job without training. It will cost a total of more than 1.5-million.

"Equally worrying is the evidence that a significant proportion disappear from the records and are drifting into drugs or crime, or simply become homeless,"

said Sandra Durkin, The Chamber’s economic development co-ordinator.

The Chamber will now be able to step up its programmes to get through to disaffected young people.

These include its Career Choice offer to young people to get a taste of a variety of jobs if they are uncertain about which way to start their working lives.

Extra help will be available to help them overcome the problems that have prevented them getting jobs with training or to get back to further education, with teams going out into the streets to make contact with disaffected youngsters.

"Poor performance and truancy at school inevitably translates into lack of basic skills, low confidence, poor self esteem and frequently poor domestic backgrounds," said Ms Durkin.

"Despite all our efforts to date, there are still too many demotivated young people with no worthwhile future."

The Chamber has identified the blackspots in Coventry and Warwickshire and aim to reach 1,140 young people. It aims to get around a quarter of those into work and a further 50 per cent into training or back to education.

The blackspots include three areas in Warwickshire where unemployment amongst 18 to 24 year olds is over 18 per cent, and five areas in Coventry where the young jobless rises to 30 per cent.

Ms Durkin added:

"We estimate that 11 per cent of all those leaving school at 16 in Coventry and Warwickshire end up without any objective, or, at best, get poor quality jobs with no training and no career path.

"We have to make a determined onslaught on the number of young people spending the first years of their life without a job and becoming part of the long-term unemployed by the time they are 18. We must start by ensuring they get qualifications and qualify for further training.

"The 16 to 18-year-olds make up the hardest to reach group, yet the cost of helping them is lower than that of keeping them on benefits. In some areas the 16 to 24 age group make up a third of all those unemployed."

The Chamber is also driven by the knowledge that it has found 570 jobs which employers say are difficult to fill, with bosses forecasting a further 384 in the next 12 months. Four out of ten employers are now reporting that this problem is holding back the performance of their businesses

Despite all this, Ajay Desai, Chamber funding co-ordinator responsible for winning extra funds, said:

"Without help from Europe we would have had to scale back our programme from helping 1,140 young people to only 420.

"That means that the success rate for getting young people into a job, or into training or education, would be likely to drop from 684 to 252.

"That would leave far too many young people with a life of no hope.

"And this is only one project out of a wide variety being backed by Europe.

"Others include helping small and medium sized enterprises and the establishment of an Internet training web which will link local colleges and also lead to international links which will provide the very best training available."

Mr. Desai added:

"Winning funds from Europe and the SRB is becoming increasingly important in enabling us to meet the needs of our community and its businesses.

"And it isn't a lottery. We have to be well organised and well researched and be able to demonstrate that we are working well with our partners.

"It is significant that the money for the youth project was one of only seven approved by Europe out of a total of nearly 200 applications from Britain."

MORE INFORMATION:  Barry Lloyd-Jones   01203 654260

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CWN / Business / The Chamber / 02 Dec 1998

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