Sinn Féin Mourne’s Councillor Willie Clarke has welcomed the news that Newcastle Jobcentre has been short-listed for the Customer Service Team Award in the illustrious 2017 N Ireland Civil Service Awards.
Cllr Clarke said: “The Newcastle Office has been recognised for their outstanding performance in using the Youth Employment Scheme (YES) to help young unemployed people in the Newcastle office area, get into work.
“This office covers a wide geographical area including Newcastle, Dundrum, Clough, Seaforde, Castlewellan Kilcoo and Leitrim.The scheme involves matching unemployed young people, aged between 18 and 24 with a local employer who fits their job aspirations. The staff in the Newcastle office then approaches the employer about the possibility providing a work placement for the young person.
“Whilst it is useful for the unemployed person to gain valuable work experience, the ultimate goal is for placements to develop into paid work.The Newcastle office’s intensive matching process is paying dividends as the office’s success rate with progressing customers from YES placements into employment with the same employer is considerably better than the overall average in N Ireland.
“It is this success rate which has seen the office fighting off stiff competition from all other government departments to be considered for the highly sought after award.
“This is a key group of unemployed citizens, who have a much higher unemployment rate than the average, with 13% of 18-24 year olds unemployed across N Ireland compared to the average rate of 4.7% for all ages so this is a fantastic achievement for the staff in the Newcastle office and is also good for the whole Newcastle area.
Cllr Clarke added: “This accolade brings further into focus the lunacy of the Newcastle Office being under threat of closure from the Department for Communities (DfC) as it tries to re-structure the benefit system with the introduction of Universal Credit.
“This recognition shows the importance of keeping vital public services local, as local knowledge and building up a relationship with local employers is key to the success of the office in this scheme in the Newcastle area, and surrounding rural community, this ensures local people get the best possible help.
“This would be lost if the local office closed and does make you wonder if the department have properly thought through the proposals for office closures.”