A £2.4m employability programme is helping some of Northern Ireland’s most disadvantaged people back into the workplace.
The programme, Step-up to Sustainable Employment (SUSE), is aimed at young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs) and disadvantaged adults. The project will be funded by up to £2.4m from the European Social Fund Programme 2007-13, administered by the Department for Employment and Learning.
Operating across the Cookstown, Dungannon, Omagh, Fermanagh and Strabane areas, the SUSE project will provide confidential one-to-one mentoring and access to a suite of practical courses, support and work experience with local employers.
The project is taking a collaborative approach led by the South West College in partnership with the PSNI, Prince’s Trust, Federation of Small Businesses and Northern Ireland Centre for Trauma and Transformation. Malachy McAleer, director of South West College said: “The programme offers a high volume of services, courses and training. Individuals can select the specific elements that best match their needs and can easily change or amend them as required. SUSE blends expert one-to-one mentoring with a suite of proven courses and support to enable participants take control of their options, explore opportunities to improve their skills and ultimately gain rewarding employment.”
The new employability programme was launched at Stormont. Speaking at the project launch, the Minister for Employment and Learning, Dr Stephen Farry, said: “This project aims to provide support for up to 400 young people and adults at risk of social exclusion and offers new ways to connect with learning, training and work opportunities.
“Projects like SUSE are important and good news for everyone. They benefit individual participants through the promotion of employability and social participation and help to promote wider economic development. The active involvement of businesses and employers ensures the programme can be shaped to meet specific industry needs and establish valuable work experience and placement programmes.”
He emphasised that the department continues to move provision forward for key inactive groups including young people who are not in education, employment or training, and adults at a disadvantage in the labour market. The minister continued: “The SUSE project will complement existing programmes that my Department has developed to tackle employment issues for these key groups across Northern Ireland.”
The project will be funded by the European Social Fund and the Department for Employment and Learning over a three-year period to March 2014.