City chiefs and community leaders are preparing to gather for the next YEP Voice of Leeds Summit which this month tackles youth unemployment.
Prominent figureheads from the public, private and third sectors will meet next Thursday to discuss what measures can be taken now to address the issue and stamp it out in the city.
It is the latest in a string of YEP summits, organised in partnership with the Leeds Community Foundation, to discuss some of the key problems facing residents across Leeds, which last month tackled social isolation.
In Leeds, and nationally, youth unemployment rates are dropping but the city’s policy makers are being urged to do more.
Leeds figures show the number of 16-24-year-olds claiming job seekers’ allowance (JSA) has reduced by nearly 32 per cent over the past year.
The number of benefit claims to the Department of Work and Pensions by 16-24-year-olds has also dropped, by 12.5 per cent.
But it is feared the true picture for the number out of work could be higher, with not everyone claiming benefits or JSA.
Statistics also show the rate of NEETs - Not in Education, Employment or Training - is improving in Leeds, falling from 10 per cent in 2007 to 6.7 per cent in 2013 - but remains above the national average of 5.3 per cent.
Sally-Anne Greenfield, chief executive of Leeds Community Foundation said: “Youth unemployment can have a major negative impact on the lives of young people, the local economy, family and community life in general.
“Leeds has focused on this area for the past two years and the good news is unemployment rates appear to be reducing.
“But there is much more that needs to be done to keep up the momentum.”
Gary Blake, of Voluntary Action Leeds, has been working on the Young Lives Leeds NEET research to explore the issue, which he says can potentially have a very damaging impact on the young unemployed.
He said: “One of the main issues we’ve found is so many people who are NEET or unemployed are dealing with issues around mental health.
“And the longer you’re in that situation, the worse your mental health gets.”
The research found 43 per cent of the 315 young people interviewed in Leeds said “stress or anxiety” is an effect of being NEET and 41 per cent of NEETs admitted they did not feel part of society.
Over half also said “lack of experience” was the main barrier to getting work.
They also said the three best ways to help them get into work were “advice about applying for jobs” (44 per cent), “better English, maths or computing skills’ (39 per cent) and “boosting my self-confidence” (39 per cent).
The YEP’s Voice of Leeds Summits 2015 aim to tackle a range of issues affecting the city.
Confirmed topics and dates for the first five are:
Summit one: January 29: Social isolation – how can we stop people dying of loneliness.
Summit two: February 26: Youth unemployment rates are dropping in Leeds but a concerted effort is vital if we are to provide more jobs for our young people.
Summit three: March 26: Digital City – the impact of new technology in local communities.
Summit four: April 30: Domestic violence – increasing the level of preventative services.
Summit five: May 28: Arts and culture – why invest in art when the city faces so many issues.
Submit your questions:
The YEP is also giving readers the chance to take part in the Voice of Leeds 2015 Summits. Send in your questions to be put to the city’s policy makers during the debates. To submit your question, email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @JoannaWardill