Express & Star comment: Wolverhampton leading the way to get people back into work
News that 3,000 people have found work in Wolverhampton as part of a council scheme shows the way forward for neighbouring boroughs in the wider West Midlands.
The pioneering Wolves at Work scheme has secured work for 3,293 people since January last year, far exceeding its original target. Nearly eight in every 10 of those taking part is in full-time work.
Now calls are growing to roll out the scheme across the West Midlands region.
Council leader Roger Lawrence rightly praises the great efforts of all involved, both in securing work for these people and helping to keep them in those jobs once they have found them.
It shows that, given the opportunity, most people want to work.
As Councillor Lawrence says: “We knew there were lots of people out there who were motivated and wanted to work but finding places for them and ensuring they had the support once in work was absolutely critical to the success of the project.”
This is a scheme that benefits us all, not just those who have found work.
Their families will benefit, the local companies employing them will benefit and we, as taxpayers and as a local community, also benefit.
This all bodes well for the future, with hundreds of local companies signing up to support the scheme.
At the same time, behind this story lies the wider issue of the strength of the economy locally.
It would appear the picture in Wolverhampton and the Black Country is far from the gloomy one that some people would portray, with many companies in a position to take on new workers.
Despite looming issues such as Brexit the local economy seems to be doing quite well.
Whether this apparent growth is anything Theresa May can claim credit for is another matter entirely.
What is clear is that this scheme has been an outstanding success and needs to be taken up by other local authorities across the West Midlands, replicating the benefits seen in Wolverhampton in their own areas.
And we would urge the West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street, to get behind this scheme and provide the support necessary to see it adopted across the wider region.