JOBLESSNESS has rocketed in the Dudley area by 75%, with almost one in ten people claiming unemployment benefit.

But now a £238m scheme has been launched to try to help people across the Black Country get back into work.

New figures from the Office for National Statistics show the number of Black Country residents claiming unemployment benefits has risen by 28,685 since, up 75%.

It amounts to 9.1% of the region’s working age population, which is well above the national average of 6.5%.

Now a new employment programme is being launched on 2nd November, backed by £238m of Government funding.

The Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) scheme will help those left jobless as a result of the pandemic. Partnering with Shaw Trust, the non-profit Steps To Work organisation will be delivering a package of employability support across the region, covering Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton.

Jobseekers will be provided with access to dedicated employment coaches offering specialist advice and guidance. The tailored support will be available for Black Country residents who are out of work and have been in receipt of benefits for at least 13 weeks, with services being delivered digitally to groups of participants. For those who require additional guidance, more intensive one-to-one support will be provided within COVID-secure environments that adhere to social distancing guidelines and safety regulations.

Mike Gahir, Chair of the Steps To Work Board of Trustees, commented: “We have a 21-year track record of helping local people get into work, whatever the economic conditions.

“JETS will help to assuage current levels of unemployment across the Black Country and get people back into paid employment into industry sectors that have been experiencing growth throughout the ongoing crisis. “

For more information about the employability support services that Steps To Work provide, please visit: