The release of figures last week showing that unemployment had reached an 11-year high shows just how tough the current economic climate is, and I sympathise with the thousands of people who find themselves without a job in these uncertain times.
In Westminster, we are doing as much as possible to help our residents, and have just launched three schemes to help people back into work.
Our apprenticeship scheme will be bringing talented young people into our offices to earn as they learn.
Selected from Westminster schools and colleges, they will be placed in key departments at the council and learn a variety of skills covering health, social care, libraries, sport, leisure, parks and business administration.
This will see young people living in Westminster learn a skill and work towards recognised qualif ications, which could set them up for a future career.
Our Highways Traineeship Scheme, launched recently with the help of charity Vital Regeneration, is currentlylinking unemployed residents with major construction companies.
Trainees will get the chance to study at college and gain an NVQ, while receiving a regular income from working with firms such as Balfour Beatty, FM Conway, Murphy Group and WSP UK.
We are also helping to fund the first scheme in the UK that will employ, train and 'hire out' apprentices to small businesses.
All these form part of the Council's Economic Recovery Programme, aimed at helping local people and businesses through these difficult times, and will give genuine opportunities to local people to learn new skills and help find long-term employment.
Cllr Colin Barrow Leader, Westminster City Council
City Hall Victoria Street