Devon

Plymouth unemployment tackled by new task force

Young people at JobCentre Plus
Image caption More than 30% of people out of work in Plymouth are under the age of 25

A special task force is being set up to tackle unemployment in Plymouth.

A review by Plymouth Growth Board and Plymouth City Council into the Devon city's economy said Plymouth had "persistent high unemployment rates".

The Office of National Statistics said more than 6,000 people were out of work and claiming benefit in May - 3.9% of the population.

The aim of the task force is to create a "Plan for Jobs" that can be rolled out over a two-year period.

Chaired by Tudor Evans, the leader of the Labour-controlled council, the task force will be made up of representatives from industry and other organisations such as the city's university, colleges, private sector, social enterprises and the local community.

'Urgency and focus'

Councillor Evans said his aim was to "make a real difference to people's jobs prospects".

"I want to create a new plan for jobs that injects a new sense of pace, urgency and focus for the city," he said.

The Plymouth Economic Review, published in October 2011, highlighted persistent high unemployment rates, especially among young people and the long-term unemployed.

It said 34% of claimants in Plymouth were aged between 18 and 24, compared with 29% nationally.

On the positive side, the review said Plymouth came 46th out of 324 local authorities in terms of proportion of business champions - young, small but rapidly-growing firms with directors that showed entrepreneurial skill.

Douglas Fletcher, chair of the growth board , said: "We have some excellent businesses in the city and the task now is to make sure we have more jobs in more of them."

Ian Brokenshire, from accounting firm KPMG and a member of Plymouth Chamber of Commerce and the Area Business Council, will be part of the task force.

"Tudor Evans has made it clear that this task force is about rolling up our sleeves and identifying specific actions which can have a direct impact on job creation," he said.

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