Councils join forces to tackle unemployment and skills shortages

Councils in North Kent, the West Midlands and the West of England are today joining forces to tackle unemployment and skills shortages, as well as housing and transport in their regions, it has been announced.

Communities secretary John Denham said councils increasingly needed to work across their borders to help get more people back into work, raise skills levels, or develop new transport links. Councils will be given powers to devise their own plans and spend money as they see fit to tackle the most pressin issues in their regions and drive economic recovery.

Denham, the former skills secretary, said: “These agreements are giving councils new powers to help them work together to direct their spending and support where it is most needed and mastermind regional solutions.

“The priorities of local people will be at the heart of [the agreements] and the actions these councils are committing to today will help thousands of people back into work, and improve skills, public transport and housing.”

Councils in the North Kent, including Dartford, Kent and Medway, will aim to deliver 58,000 jobs and 52,000 new homes by 2026. They also aim to increase by 14% the number of people (equivalent to 44,000 people) with 5 GCSEs A* to C or higher (NVQ level 2) by 2014.

The West of England authorities, including Bristol, Somerset and Bath, said they would train 12,000 working-age people to a higher standard through local agreed employment plans focused on the most deprived areas. The area also plans to increase the number of under-25s in jobs with formal training opportunities, such as apprenticeships.

In the West Midlands, local authorities such as Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton, intend to move 26,000 people off out of work benefits and in to employment and training, and increase the number of adults with 5 GCSEs A* to C or higher (NVQ level 2) by 12%, equivalent to 163,000 people.

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