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Archive - Thursday, 28 January 1999
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Tony Blair backs the New Deal
Oxford Mail readers have seen job schemes come and go over the last 20 years, writes Tony Blair. They have every reason to ask if the New Deal is any different.
It is, as the 60,000 young people across the country who have already found work would agree. As would the 660 New Dealers here in Oxfordshire.
Figures out today show that 100,000 young people have been helped to find work, gone on to quality training or education or taken up a voluntary or environmental option through the New Deal. And up to the end of last year nearly 40,000 firms had pledged employment places for the New Deal.
We promised at the election we would give 250,000 young people a new start. Not another scheme to take people off the unemployment count, but quality training, the chance to study and help to find real Jobs.
We said we could not do this alone. We all stand to benefit if we make the best use of all our talents. The waste of the last two decades, with millions unemployed and with no hope of improving their lives, has done real damage to our society. Turning this round matters to us all. That is why so many businesses and individuals have joined us to make the New Deal work. Nearly 200 local firms have joined household names such as Rolls-Royce, Dixons, British Steel and Safeways in supporting the New Deal.
They know that unless we work in partnership, we will never be able to offer unemployed people real hope.
They also want people who are ready to work, with the right attitude. And they may need help with training too.
This is what the New Deal offers. Every New Dealer has a personal adviser to help them find work, or prepare for work if they need to. There are options of training and education, voluntary work and environmental projects. New Dealers are only sent off for interviews when they are ready. And employers can get help with training costs.
The New Deal is not a quick fix. The figures are for only eight full months of operation. But it has already helped 160 people in Oxfordshire to find work - 160 local people with a better life and a brighter future.
People like Andrew Bloomfield, who joined Unipart under the subsidised employment option. He so impressed them that he won a national New Deal Client of the Year award - and is now a permanent Unipart employee.
Oxford is also leading the way in showing how New Deal partnerships can meet local needs.
The city council, the tourist board and Milton Keynes College have a scheme to help young people gain experience with a range of employers in tourism. And in Blackbird Leys, eight young New Dealers are building homes for themselves and others through a trust supported by RSP Ranier, Wilmott Dixon and Oxford Housing Associations. We are on track to meet our election pledge on the New Deal, as we are with waiting lists, coming down for the first time in the history of the NHS and an extra £21bn to rebuild the service. Class sizes show more than 100,000 children in smaller classes - including 4,300 in Oxfordshire. On crime, tough measures are reducing the time it takes to bring young tearaways to book. And on the economy we have taken tough decisions to tackle inflation and deliver the lowest long-term interest rates for 30 years.
These pledges matter because people ought to be able to trust politicians to do what they promise. They also matter because of the difference they make to all our lives, throughout the country.
Nationally, the New Deal has helped reduce youth unemployment to its lowest level since the 1970s. The number of young long-term unemployed is down 46 per cent in Oxford since the election.
The companies supporting the New Deal, the personal advisers and the New Dealers themselves should be proud of what they have achieved. It turned my life around Andrew Bloomfield says life has been transformed by the New Deal.
The 21-year-old had been out of work for six months after finishing studying for a BTEC in graphic design at Oxford College of Further Education.
He joined the Government's Jobseekers Allowance scheme but, despite sending off around 30 job applications, had no luck securing a job.
But then Andrew, of Girdlestone Road, Headington, signed up for the New Deal and started work at Unipart, in Cowley, last April, working in data analysis and marketing.
He said: "I think the New Deal is an excellent scheme. I have now got a bit more money and independence to do what I want to do."
In Oxfordshire, 187 employers have signed up for the New Deal. Unipart itself has taken on eight workers.
Oxford City Council is involved in a scheme with other partners to help young people on the New Deal gain experience with a range of employers in the hotel and catering trade.
And Stagecoach, the Oxford bus company, is providing half-fare concessions to New Deal workers.
Eight young people are currently gaining work experience in a building project in Pegasus Court, Blackbird Leys, Oxford.
Story date: Thursday 28 January
Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.