New £238m Scheme Launched to Support Those Left Jobless by COVID-19

Thousands of job seekers throughout the Black Country are set to benefit from a new employment programme being launched on 2nd November.

Backed by £238m of national Government funding, the Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) scheme will help to those left jobless as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Partnering with Shaw Trust, Steps To Work will be delivering this new package of employability support across the region, covering Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton.

As part of the scheme, jobseekers will be provided with access to dedicated employment coaches offering specialist advice and guidance. The tailored support will be available for Black Country residents who are out of work and have been in receipt of benefits for at least 13 weeks, with services being delivered digitally to groups of participants. For those who require additional guidance, more intensive one-to-one support will be provided within COVID-secure environments that adhere to social distancing guidelines and safety regulations.

 According to the latest figures published by the Office for National Statistics, the number of Black Country residents claiming unemployment benefits has risen by 28,685 since lockdown measures were first introduced in March, equating to an increase of 75%. This amounts to 9.1% of the region’s working age population and sits well above the national average of 6.5%.

Mike Gahir, Chair of the Steps To Work Board of Trustees, commented: “We have a 21-year track record of helping local people get into work, whatever the economic conditions. We are very pleased to  build upon our partnership with Shaw Trust to deliver the new Job Entry Targeted Support programme. With the Government’s furlough scheme having now drawn to a close, it is hoped that JETS will help to assuage current levels of unemployment across the Black Country and get people back into paid employment into industry sectors that have been experiencing growth throughout the ongoing crisis.

“Whilst we have seen a return to more stringent restrictive guidelines in recent weeks – which could have an adverse impact on the economic recovery and mental wellbeing of our region – we at Steps To Work are well equipped to support those who are amongst the most vulnerable members of our community at a time when they need it most. As an organisation, we are committed to helping local people, many of whom face multiple barriers, find sustainable, rewarding and meaningful employment.”

For more information our employability support services, please visit: www.stepstowork.co.uk/services-we-offer.