A business support organisation has helped dozens of young people Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEETs) to find secure employment and apprenticeships with regional firms.
East Durham Business Service runs an apprenticeship programme to get more 16-19-year-olds in the area out of the benefits system and into work.
In less than a year, it has seen more than 60 young people take up on intensive and longer-term placements, with over 80% entering full time employment or being awarded apprenticeships with local businesses.
Apprenticeship consultant at the organisation Simon Naisbett said: “The young people who come to see me genuinely want to work but aren’t sure how to find the best opportunities for them, or lack the confidence that the majority of employers are looking for.
“Many of them have been on other training courses that really haven’t helped them so I devote time to get to know them, what interests them and their strengths and weaknesses so I can tailor my support in a way which is engaging and will make a real difference to them.
“They leave here as different people, with the confidence and self belief which local employers want and that’s what our apprenticeship programme is all about.”
Naisbett delivers two main apprenticeship courses, one being an intensive six-week programme funded by the European Social Fund and delivered in partnership with Gateshead Council, the second being a referral-based initiative.
One NEET currently working with him is 18-year-old Jordan Scott from Easington, who said: “Simon is making a real difference to me as he genuinely wants to help. I really want to get a job as a kitchen and bathroom fitter and I know when I complete this course I’ll have a better chance of doing that.”
Another apprentice, Bobby Grieves, 19 , from Murton, hopes to become a painter and decorator.
He said: “I have already passed my NVQ Level 2 so this course is all about learning more about the skills employers are looking for so hopefully I can get a job at the end of it.”
The majority of young people who enrol on the programmes are self-referrals, while some come via Durham County Council’s One Point programme.
Naisbett added: “I operate open door policy here. A lot of the young people who come to me have done so because their friend has told them about it and that’s great. That shows there’s a willingness to better themselves; all they want is someone to believe in them.”