In the council chamber, Cllr John Clancy’s passionate address about the ‘Unemployment Iceberg’ earlier this month, was warmly applauded and can be seen on video here.  

He said that long-term unemployment is soaring – up 49% during the last 12 months – due to the economic crisis caused by the financial sector, not ordinary people. No one is spending and we need to change course before we hit the iceberg.

Today’s news questions the value of demoralising training for jobs which do not exist and of ‘providers’ like A4e, with its average success rate of 3.5%, according to data seen by Channel 4 News. Let’s find out more about actual working models created by local people: 

A revolving ‘not for personal profit’ fund 

Years ago, Sir Adrian Cadbury set up the Aston Commission which published several findings; one was that people in the area were unable to get bank loans to start or improve businesses because they had no form of security to offer. To address this, he worked with Localisation West Midlands’ co-founder Pat Conaty, then working at the Birmingham Settlement, to set up a revolving ‘not for personal profit’ fund – the Aston Reinvestment Trust [ART] . When loans are repaid the money helps another business and profit is reinvested in the company. Over the years it has created or retained more than 4000 jobs in the city.  

Paid work experience, with training for long-term unemployed, through community businesses 

Dr Christine Parkinson studied as a biologist and spent the first part of her career in medical research before changing direction and moving to Birmingham, where she has helped to develop three socially beneficial projects in the inner city. One was the Jericho Community Project, which continues to offer paid work experience with training, to the long-term unemployed, through community businesses. 

Resisting off-shoring and training apprentices

The Davies family have a proud, unbroken record of training apprentices, the industrial norm until the 70s. Managing director Kirsty, currently West Midlands Family Business Director of the Year, hit the headlines when the Chamber of Commerce was vigorously promoting offshoring to local manufacturers. She ‘went public’: “With what they are proposing, they will take work away from the West Midlands and once you do that then you will never get it back . . . It may be old fashioned but I think firms have a moral duty to protect their employees and exporting manufacturing abroad is no way to do that.”

And with help from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund . . .

Winson Green-based Sunsolar which currently supplies and install PV Solar Panels has been awarded £5m from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund to build solar PV panels. This will be added to a £5 million company investment in building a new factory in Oldbury for the purpose, employing local suppliers and hoping to create as many as 565 new jobs over the next five years. Rob Grant, Sunsolar’s Business Manager adds:

“To begin with the modules will be produced using cells purchased from Europe; however this is only on a short-term solution to get the factory up and running this year. The company is currently placing an order for cell manufacturing machinery which it expects to be in place by the beginning of next year. At that point the manufacturing of the whole module will come from within the UK.”

News of other enterprises directly or indirectly addressing the demoralising unemployment ‘iceberg’ will be welcomed and featured here.