People in Greater Manchester are still facing a “gap in opportunity” for jobs compared to other parts of the UK, a minister has said.
Conservative Mims Davies, minister for social mobility, youth and progression, called on businesses to be “more prepared” to take people on and help to reduce the problem.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) minister made the comments during a visit to the Lowry in Salford on November 2, where she met young people who were employed through the Kickstart scheme.
Ms Davies told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS): “In terms of where you live, the opportunities are different. What your background is or postcode shouldn’t stop you from finding the right opportunities.
“If you’re in Greater Manchester or my part of the world, there shouldn’t be that gap in opportunity.
“That’s why making sure that employers don’t discriminate, that they see that the talent is under their noses – but they might have to be more prepared to give that helping hand.”
During the visit, Ms Daives met young people who benefited from the Government’s Kickstart scheme and landed full-time jobs at the Lowry.
Alex Rose, 24, shared how he was able to get a job as a technician through the scheme after university. Another success story came from Menna Collins, 25, who is now a social media executive at the Lowry after coming through the programme.
Kickstart was initially set up to create new jobs for people aged 16 to 24 during the pandemic, but its funding ended in January.
Ms Davies said that many employers in the region are caring and positive towards getting young people into work, and she would like to see more of that to tackle the social mobility gap.
Data suggests progress has been slow, with people born in the North and Midlands finding it more difficult to move up than people in other areas of the UK, according to some studies.
A report by the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) in September stated that social mobility in the UK could be at its worst in 50 years for children born into poorer households.
“A lot of the differences in mobility between areas seem to be down to differences in local labour markets, family stability, and demographics of the local population”, the IFS claimed.
Jenny Riding, director of learning and engagement at the Lowry, said the Kickstart scheme was a great way to find talented young people, but she also shared concerns over whether enough is being done nationally to make careers in the arts accessible.
She told the LDRS: “Something is missing, more can and needs to be done around cultural education.
“Looking at the current plans, there’s a proposal around a cultural education plan, but there’s no resource that sits behind it, and it won’t be statutory.
“What that means in essence is that there’s no money to make it happen and nobody has to do it, so why would they? Schools are already struggling.
“I do think more needs to be done, it’s not just about going into arts, it’s the transferralble and core skills they give, which is being able to talk about your ideas, being able to present yourself confidently, being able to express yourself, all of those skills are really core and come through creative work.
“If you don’t have the chance to try that out and express yourself that way, then you might never discover it.”