Thurrock hosts european conference discusses youth unemployment

DELEGATES from across Europe came to Thurrock to discuss the problems of youth unemployment across the continent.

Thurrock is one of two British partners in the URBACT Programme – part of the EU URBAN Community Initiative Programme – a pan-European exchange and learning scheme that aims to enable experiences to be shared across national borders.

The URBACT Jobtown project is about structural youth unemployment and poor employment, as well as establishing local development strategies and partnerships to promote youth employment and opportunities.

Last week’s two day event started at the High House Production Park in Purfleet – the second day was at Enfield – and the theme was support for business creation and development, self-employment, acquisition of entrepreneurial skills and improving the business environment.

The Thurrock-based session set the scene of “doing business in the UK”, and included visits to places like South Essex College’s Grays campus; the Ockendon Studio School; the Logistics Academy East of England, at the Port of Tilbury; the Old Courthouse, Grays,; the Thurrock Centre for Business in Grays; and the Riverside Business Centre, Tilbury.

Welcoming delegates to the event, Thurrock Council Leader, Cllr John Kent, said that if Thurrock was to “take advantage of all this excitement and investment we have to make sure that Thurrock people – those living here now and those to come – will have the necessary skills and qualifications to get those jobs; not just the manual labour, but to fill the managerial, the technical, the engineering and the professional posts as well”.

He said: “Thurrock Council has promoted innovation and entrepreneurship through the Next Top Boss scheme which encourages young people to work with some of the borough’s largest employers – some of them world-known names – and come up with answers to real-life problems and issues.

“And more practically, the council itself has found places for 57 apprentices, as well as demanding our contractors – especially among our housing teams – also employ local young people, ensuring jobs and just as importantly, real work experience, so they are not caught in that horrific circle of not getting a job because they have no experience, and not getting any experience because they haven’t got a job.

“We have said that if the top jobs in Thurrock are not filled by Thurrock people in ten years’ time, then we will have failed.”

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