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‘Match business in backing New Deal’, Blunkett urges public sector


20 January 2000

Education and Employment Secretary David Blunkett today called on all areas of the public sector to get behind the New Deal in the same way that business has, by appointing New Deal "champions" in their organisations.

Addressing the annual conference of the Centre for Local Economic Strategies in Manchester he said:

"Business has backed New Deal from the start. Our aim was always to see most people finding work through the New Deal to do so with companies in the private sector. Employers have responded magnificently - almost 64,000 have signed up.

"The public sector is a major employer, and so far, in comparison they could do much better in taking on people under New Deal, setting them on the ladder of opportunity, and realise the significant potential of tapping into a motivated pool of labour.

"One example of how this works is a 42 place programme that is funded through the Education Action Zones (EAZs), New Deal and the European Social Fund. Thirty eight of the 42 places have already been filled by young people aged 18-24 working as home school liaison officers for which they will be paid a wage of £160. Possibilities of expanding the project into other EAZ areas within Sheffield are currently being explored. In addition a further six places for over 25-year-olds of Classroom Support Workers will be linked in to enhance the project.

"TECs have played a significant role in supporting their local communities through initiatives which extend support for young people and adults offered through the Government programmes they deliver. In addition they have also promoted and supported from their reserves and other discretionary funds wider regeneration and economic development through local strategies and projects. I am looking to TECs to maintain this vital financial investment in local economic development in the coming year. We will also want to ensure after March 2001 that remaining TEC resources should be invested to the benefit of local communities.

"The New Deal demonstrates that it can work as a solution to matching the workers without jobs to the jobs without workers. And because of the intense preparation offered by the Gateway period of the New Deal and the close involvement of businesses in its design, lead by the New Deal Task Force, the New Deal is the best programme yet in ensuring the right match.

"Both CLES and the Task Force have researched public sector involvement in New Deal. They both recognised that many key areas of work in the new century will be public sector and that in many areas the public sector is the main employer.

"Public sector organisations are central to local communities and local economies. They will have good links with their local Employment Service. I hope they will build on that role and play their part in supporting a strong, sound economy - enhancing employability and promoting opportunity for all."


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