One of the most welcome new additions to the town’s facilities is the Ashford Youth Hub, which was set up over the summer and is now fully operational. It brings together the Job Centre, the Borough Council and East Kent College to give tailored support to young people for up to six months.
I visited the Hub at the end of last week, and it is really encouraging to see all these organisations working together. Too often I hear about young people “falling through the gaps” so they don’t get the help they need. The whole point of the Youth Hub is that these gaps will no longer exist in Ashford.
This is part of the wider national Plan for Jobs, and the eventual aim is to have 100 Hubs around the country. I am glad that Ashford found itself ready to go early but am not surprised given the enthusiasm of all the partner organisations and the energy that is obvious in the building.
The basic purpose will be to provide unemployed young people with the skills and training they need to take up and hold down a job. Young workers were hit particularly hard by the lockdowns during the Covid pandemic, so some of them have never had the chance to start work.
This will provide them with the tools to start a career. Of course the Youth Hub can be flexible enough to provide skills for older workers as well, and there was an introduction to logistics and lorry driving going on while I was there.
Giving young people the right advice so they get into the habit of work at the outset of their adult life is one of the best long-term investments we can make. It is good for the future of our area that the local organisations have seized this chance so readily.