Birmingham awarded £4m jobs funding

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Birmingham and the surrounding area has been awarded £4m of government funding to help tackle youth unemployment.

Unemployment levels in Birmingham are among the worst in the country and it has one of the youngest populations in Europe.

The Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) said it would be targeting growth sectors, such as manufacturing.

It said it planned to set up a new Apprenticeship Training Agency.

The funding, covering the next three years, is also expected to be used to focus on unemployment hotspots within the area.

Andy Street, chair of the LEP, said youth unemployment was "one of the biggest challenges we face".

Within the LEP, latest figures show a total of more than 14,000 people aged 18-24 claiming job seekers allowance - at 7.1% well above the national average of 5.5%.

Mr Street said 19,000 private sector jobs had been created in the area in 2011-12, but that many of those long-term unemployed needed "support and mentoring to access these opportunities".

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