Belfast Telegraph

Neets scheme offers mix of education, enterprise and work

By Lesley Houston

Young people from Northern Ireland are being targeted by a new pilot scheme to give them qualifications and help get jobs.

The current generation of Neets – young people who are Not in Employment, Education or Training – are the subject of a unique programme to give 40 people aged from 18 to 26 paid employment in a range of social enterprises.

The £300,000 Advance Programme will pay the group for 24 weeks, with a stated goal of transforming short-term posts into permanent jobs.

The pilot project has been developed by Larne Enterprise Development Company Ltd (LEDCOM) in conjunction with Enterprise Northern Ireland and funded by Lloyds TSB Foundation for NI in partnership with Lloyds Banking Group.

Before taking up their posts, every candidate will complete Enterprise Northern Ireland's Exploring Enterprise Programme, which gives them a recognised qualification in business studies plus mentoring support to help develop their skills.

Programme manager Audrey Murray said the programme offered people the chance to climb the ladder to success: "In essence we are interlocking the cogs of enterprise, employment and education to create jobs," she said.

"These are real jobs, not a placement, and our goal is that at least 50% of the recruits will be retained by the companies.

"It's up to each young person to make that happen; they have 24 weeks to prove to employers that they have what it takes."

Ms Murray hoped the programme will foster the growth of new ideas and fresh thinking into the participating businesses.

Recruitment has commenced with anyone with a degree or no qualifications at all – but are hankering for a career in business – are being encouraged to enrol.

Successful applicants will then be placed in a social enterprise that is ready and in a position to employ new staff.

Sandara Kelso-Robb said: "This funding of £300,000 is the single largest award given in the foundation's history."

For further information about the Advance Programme from Audrey Murray telephone 028 2826 9973 or e-mail audrey murray@ledcomwbp.org.

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