Short-term work project for youths
Forty young unemployed people are to be offered short-term posts in social enterprises in Northern Ireland as part of a new £300,000 pilot job creation initiative.
The Advance Programme has twin goals of generating job opportunities for 18 to 26 year-olds and helping the businesses involved to grow.
If the 24-week paid placements work, the co-ordinators hope the jobs can become more permanent.
Social enterprises are essentially businesses that prioritise contributing to the community over making profit.
The scheme is aimed at so-called Neets - young people not in employment, education or training
It has been developed and managed by Larne Enterprise Development Company Ltd (LEDCOM) in conjunction with Enterprise Northern Ireland, with funding from the Lloyds TSB Foundation for NI.
Programme manager Audrey Murray said. "This will be the first step on the ladder to success for the young person and an opportunity to expand and grow for the social enterprise; in essence we are interlocking the cogs of enterprise, employment and education to create permanent jobs."
Before taking up their posts, each of the young people will complete a training course to achieve a qualification in business studies and help develop their entrepreneurial skills.
They will then receive mentoring support before attending interviews with the social enterprises.
The participating businesses will be companies seeking to grow and expand staff numbers.
"These are real jobs, not a placement, and our goal is that at least 50% of the recruits will be retained by the companies," said Ms Murray.
"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."
The programme is now recruiting unemployed young people and are seeking both graduates and those with no qualifications who want a career in business.
Sandara Kelso-Robb, executive director of Lloyds TSB Foundation for NI, said: "This funding of £300,000 is the single largest award given in the foundation's history. It is a win-win situation and its impact will be carefully monitored. The programme will enable both the companies and the young people to help each other develop and at the same time grow the local Northern Ireland economy."