First Enterprise Business Agency – which offers loan funding to SME businesses – is helping to launch ‘Equality Challenge’, a partnership with some of the cities key educational and employment players.
Qammar Zamman, chief executive of First Enterprise, said: “Between April and June 2015 the country has seen unemployment rise and employment fall. What is even more concerning is that the youth unemployment rate in particularly is on the rise.
“We have formed a partnership with some of the key educational and employment establishments in Derby and further afield to help tackle a clear generational skills gap and set the Midlands on track to be better prepared to fill that vital need.”
Equality Challenge – which is to be launched in September – has been created to produce meaningful and sustainable employment opportunities for those furthest removed from the jobs market in Derby. It will also look to tackle discrimination and advocate on behalf of new arrival, minority ethnic and disadvantaged communities.
It will work towards encouraging enterprise and skills development across the county as a means to overcome poverty and promote factors that encourage social inclusion.
Qammar added: “Although the jobs market remains robust, it is clear that we cannot be too complacent and action needs to be taken so that those in Derby still living on the knife edge are given the support they need.
“Through the work we do, we have heard that the BME community in particular feel that in the last five years support has dropped from mainstream funding routes for businesses. We want a change and to see more being done to help.
“We are a small organisation and we cannot replace mainstream banks but we will continue to do all we can. Access to finance is crucial.”
Equality Challenge partners include Central Education & Training Derby, Communities Inc, Jobs Education & Training (JET) Derby, NG7 Training, Women Centre Derby, City College Nottingham, Employment & Advice, Nottingham Equal, PATRA Inc, and ACDA Nottingham.
Michael Henry, of Communities Inc, said: “Resources are getting pretty scarce in the public and voluntary sectors, so the future’s got to be about collaboration rather than competition. We are pleased to be part of Equality Challenge.”
The launch will take place on 8 September at City College Nottingham and will see the partnership meet to discuss its plans.
Based in Hyson Green but operating across the Midlands, First Enterprise provides loans and free business advice to start-ups and existing businesses from all backgrounds and sectors right across Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire.