Stockton's Infinity Bridge

David Miliband MP addresses North East Youth Jobs Summit

06 July 2012

Youth Jobs SummitThe Rt Hon David Miliband MP today addressed the North East Youth Jobs Summit, organised by the Association of North East Councils and the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO) at a time when the North East has the highest rate of unemployed 16-24 year olds in the country.

In his keynote speech, Mr Miliband drew on evidence and recommendations from the recent 'Youth Unemployment: the crisis we can't afford' report by the ACEVO Commission on Youth Unemployment, which he chaired.

The event focused on current issues and challenges and explored opportunities for joint approaches, solutions, ideas and actions aimed at tackling youth unemployment and promoting jobs in the North East.

Young people from the Regional Youth Work Unit, alongside representatives from councils, business, education, the VCS and Government agencies, gave their insights and views on how to tackle youth unemployment and promote employment opportunities.

Panellists involved in the Q&A included George Ritchie, Senior Vice President Regional HR, Sembcorp Industries & SVP HR Teesside, Alan Wallace, Head of Apprenticeships - Employer Accounts,National Apprenticeship Service;Professor Paul Gregg, University of Bath, Member of CBI's Getting the UK Working Group and Member of the ACEVO Commission on Youth Unemployment; Beccy Earnshaw, Director, Schools North East; Neil Burke, Regional Participation Support Worker, Regional Youth Work Unit; and Sara Jackson, Member of the North East Youth Network.
David Miliband
At the North East Jobs Summit, Mr Miliband said that youth unemployment was a huge social and economic problem. He said that there were solutions, however, and that making changes for the better could be achieved through public, private and third sector organisations in the North East working together.

Cllr Paul Watson, Chair of the Association of North East Councils, said: "It has never been a more important time for us all to work together to support young people into employment, apprenticeships and training opportunities.  The North East is a very different place now, and councils recognise that they need to be proactively working with the private sector and others to ensure that the skills and talents of young people are at the heart of improving and developing our economy. Young people have a tremendous amount to contribute and are clearly part of the solution and not the problem. We need to take the opportunity to do things differently and to work creatively to ensure we have an effective workforce both now and for the future. The outcomes from today's Summit will help sharpen our focus on those actions that will have greatest impact for the benefit of people and communities across the North East."

Neil Burke,Regional Participation Support Worker at the Regional Youth Work Unit, said: "Young people in the North East need a platform to have a voice and influence decisions on issues which affect them most.  The young people involved in the North East Youth Network have developed a campaign, 'Reducing the Gap', which aims to tackle the issue of Youth Unemployment.  Being involved in the Youth Jobs Summit gives us an excellent opportunity to engage with policy and decision makers and ensure that young people's views inform the debate."

Sara Jackson, North East Youth Network member - ‘Reducing the Gap' young people's campaign, said: "Being a young person who is currently unemployed, I feel passionate about the issue of youth unemployment which is affecting so many young people in today's society. By working with the North East Youth Network and voicing my opinions at the Youth Jobs Summit, I feel this is a great opportunity to make a real change which will benefit young people throughout the North East."

George Ritchie, SVP Regional HR Sembcorp Industries and SVP HR Teesside, said: "I support the North East Youth Jobs Summit wholeheartedly.  It is vitally important for all sections of society - but for manufacturing industry in particular - that our young people have the opportunities they deserve to develop the skills, competencies and behaviours we so badly need if we are to maintain our position as a region of manufacturing excellence."

Alan Wallace, Head of Apprenticeships - Employer Accounts atNational Apprenticeship Service, said: "The National Apprenticeship Service would encourage North East employers to recruit young people in to their businesses.  It is vital for the regional economy that we maximise the potential of the undoubted talent that we have in the North East.  Young people can bring new ideas, passion, commitment, enthusiasm and a real desire to achieve things.  The current 100 day challenge campaign has shown that commitment from nearly 1,000 of the region's companies, about 50% of these taking an apprentice for the first time. It would be great to build on this success and get more employers offering apprenticeship opportunities."

Cllr Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Council, said: "Tackling youth unemployment is a major concern in the current economic conditions, so we were pleased to host the Summit in our borough. We welcome the event's positive focus on helping young people into jobs, which is reflected in our efforts locally to help businesses take on apprentices and create new employment through our partnership with BT."

Photo captions:
Top photo:
 David Miliband MP (back left); Cllr Paul Watson, Chair, Association of North East Councils and Cllr Iain Malcolm, Leader South Tyneside Council (back row 5th and 6th) with Members of the North East Youth Network and Neil Burke, Regional Participation Support Worker, Regional Youth Work Unit (front centre).
Lower photo: David Miliband MP, Chair of the ACEVO Commission on Youth Unemployment

Notes to editors:
1. The 100 Days: The Apprenticeship Challenge referred to Alan Wallace is a campaign organised by the National Apprenticeship Service in association with the North East Chamber of Commerce. The campaign's target date is 10 July and has been incredibly successful with 1,958 apprentice opportunities created in the North East so far.

2. The Association of North East Councils is the representative body for local government in the North East.  It encompasses the 12 local authorities in the North East, including Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, County Durham and the Tees Valley, on issues of concern to them and the communities they serve. It is a cross-party organisation, with all of its Members democratically elected and accountable politicians.

For further information please contact:
Bethan Airey, Communications Officer, Association of North East Councils on 0191 261 3917 or 07957 823 864; email

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