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Localised job support key to tackling future unemployment – new LGA chair

Millions of people could be trapped in a future unemployment ‘twilight zone’ unless councils are given greater powers to tackle the issue in their areas, the incoming chair of the Local Government Association (LGA) has claimed. 

Cllr David Sparks, who will address the LGA Annual Conference and Exhibition in Bournemouth today, is expected to call for a radical overhaul of the employment system, by localising all back-to-work and skills schemes and bringing together services around those who are out of work. 

This comes after the Association, which represents 415 authorities in England and Wales, estimated that in less than a decade ‘a lost generation’ of eight million people – the population of London - could be without a job or in work they are over-qualified for. 

It is feared this will lead to ‘swathes of people’ with skills mismatched for jobs, risking them being in low paid, insecure work, and reliant on benefits. In order to address this issue, Cllr Cllr Sparks, a careers adviser for 30 years, will call for the ‘revitalising of employment’ help through a new locally-led Youth Jobcentre, to bring together services around the needs of individuals. 

He also proposes to match training with local jobs by completing the transfer of further education funding to councils and local partners and investing in an independent locally commissioned careers advice; boosting teenage participation in education and by devolving under-performing national youth engagement schemes to councils; and refocusing employment skills and back to work support by strengthening the central role of councils. 

The proposals form a key part of a new report – Investing In Our Nation's Future, The First 100 Days of The Next Government – that will be published by the LGA at its conference today. In particular, the report outlines a range of policies which the LGA believes will save the public purse £11bn, tackle the country's housing crisis and offer every child a place at a good school. 

Cllr Sparks said: "Last year, we laid the foundations of our response to the challenges that public services face with our campaign Rewiring Public Services. This year, we're going a step further – offering the next government a ready-made, fully-costed, long-term answer to the hard questions they will face when the dust settles on 8 May 2015. 

“Councils are doing everything they can but the current system is a maze of fragmented and overlapping schemes. This has to change for the future economic prosperity of this country. 

“The solution is to ensure councils can target training and employment funds, and join up with services such as jobs centres. Local authorities – not central government – best understand the needs of their residents and how to address their skills needs. From the older generation to the 10 year-olds sitting in classrooms today, we all face being unleashed into this system that is still broken and swamped with unemployment in eight years' time.”

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