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The promise of a better future: local businesses putting learners of all ages at the heart of COVID recovery

As unemployment in the region soars, Doncaster Chamber encourages local businesses to partner with education providers to help boost employment prospects for learners of all ages and drive economic growth.

Opportunities Doncaster, Doncaster Chamber’s education arm, are relaunching the Doncaster Promise: a commitment between businesses and education to work in partnership to ensure learners of all ages are equipped with the skills and experience they need to be successful in the workforce.

The Promise aims to meet Doncaster’s skills challenge: the proportion of Doncaster’s population employed in occupations classed as “highly skilled” remains 11.2% below the national average, with productivity at only 80% of the UK national average.

As the pandemic continues to have a devastating impact on businesses who are forced to close and thousands of people are unemployed, the Chamber is calling for the business community to help the local economy build back stronger.

Doncaster Chamber President, Jill Wood said, “The coronavirus pandemic has had a disproportionate economic effect on our young people and has exacerbated the social disadvantage that far too many already face. Education has been disrupted, apprenticeships suspended, jobs have been cut and the opportunities for young talent to flourish, lost.”

Recent levels of youth unemployment are at their highest since 2016. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), youth unemployment has risen nationally to 14.5% since the start of the pandemic.

Ms Wood continued, “Young people will be the driver of our long-term recovery from the impact of the pandemic, so we must have a response that puts them at its heart. Our response will help us build a fairer, more inclusive society that works for everyone and demonstrates our commitment to helping young people succeed.”

Since the Doncaster Promise was launched in 2019, over 150 local businesses have already signed and supported over 80,000 meaningful encounters with students. Volunteers from the firms participate in activities such as careers workshops, webinars and CV workshops.

Ms Wood continued, “It is encouraging to see the high level of support from employers already committed, especially given the hardship that some businesses are facing right now.

“We are encouraging employers to come forward and join what is a crucial intervention to ensure that we capture the potential of Doncaster’s learners and prevent coronavirus from leaving a lasting impact on their employment opportunities.”

Businesses who sign the Promise are supported with their strategies to develop inclusion, with labour market information support and funding, and with brand awareness across the region.

The Promise has been expanded to include new ways for businesses to support young people including through the new kickstart initiative.

Doncaster Chamber invites you to find out more about the Doncaster Promise at their free event on 26 January: https://business.doncaster-chamber.co.uk/events/details/relaunch-of-the-doncaster-promise-2681?calendarMonth=2021-01-01

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