Employment opportunities has seen a rise in the UK over the past year. There was perhaps one time when the situation, especially for the young, looked to be beyond hope. But the “Get Bradford Working” scheme claims success, employing many young and elderly people, and taking steps towards creating a better future for the financial health of the individuals in Bradford.
The work-scheme offers paid work placements for the jobless and focuses on out-of-work young people, individuals over the age of 50 along with people with disabilities. It provides minimum wage jobs, apprenticeships, and other opportunities with the aim to arm people with the means to break out of the cycle of long-term unemployment.
Get Bradford Working has created 390 new jobs, 400 new apprenticeship placements, and has lead to 600 gained qualifications. There are also 1500 school placements directly linked to businesses, providing jobs for the future and creating opportunities for young people with a smooth transition from a life in school to a life in work.
The regional branch of the Job Centre Plus is the most recent investor in the scheme, pumping over half a million pounds into one area; the Employment Opportunities Fund, which offers twelve month pair contracts to young job seekers.
Although this is a sizeable amount of money, it seems less significant when compared to the £ 7.7 million invested by the local council over the past two years. It can be assumed that £560,000 is a welcome donation by Job Centre Plus, although it begs the question of how much this new influx will impact the project and whether the results are justifying the overall costs.
Government statistics show a very high unemployment rate for Bradford, with 5.1% claiming job seekers allowance, significantly above the national average which stands at 2.9%. It can be clearly seen then that the project has been developed in an area which needs it.
The young, especially in Bradford, have been hit hard by unemployment. It seems the investment could not have come quick enough and with a youth unemployment figure of 9.3% standing at almost double the national average, Get Working Bradford needs all the help it can get.
However, in just one month alone, in December 2013, 120 young people came off the benefits claim in the area. But with 4540 young people still unemployed in Bradford, the program still has a long way to go and the project is justified in it's urge to expand and receive more funding.
Bradford saw a 12.8% rise in people coming off JSA in 2013. This looks promising, and seems to point to the success of the scheme, until compared with the national average of 21.1% coming off JSA nationally. Although, it is difficult to distinguish between the national trend towards employment and the direct impact of the project on the local area.
Over time, it is possible that the project could be constrained by the number of people it can continue employing, which would be defined by how many jobs are actually available in the area. However, projects like these are at least one step in the right direction, and could eventually snowball into a much needed significant change for Bradford, and perhaps even for the nation at the will of the labour government working in the right direction.
The Labour government have implied that they would be keen to use the Get Bradford Working scheme as a model for a nationwide project, which they would fund, were they to come into power following the next election.
Whether or not the Get Bradford Working Scheme is likely to become a national project is highly debatable. The labour government would need to win the election first. Then, they would need to stick to their word and create the right policy to implement it. Fingers crossed!
For now at least, this is an example of a highly innovative and working project, set up in an area that requires help to battle it's unemployment. Many individuals have benefited from their involvement in the scheme. With the correct funding, and involvement of the correct organizations, perhaps the future will get to see Bradford employing it's entire population; one step at a time.