£300,000 pilot creates new jobs for young people

Advance 2 A unique new programme, the first of its kind in the UK, is targeting Northern Ireland’s Neets − young people not in employment, education or training − with the twin aims of getting them into fulfilling careers and boosting social enterprise businesses.

The Advance Programme will give 40 young people aged between 18 and 26, 24 weeks’ paid employment in a range of social enterprises throughout Northern Ireland with the goal of transforming these short term posts into permanent jobs.

This £300,000 pilot project has been developed and managed by Larne Enterprise Development Company Ltd (LEDCOM) in conjunction with Enterprise Northern Ireland and funded by Lloyds TSB Foundation for Northern Ireland in partnership with Lloyds Banking Group.

“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. We have recruited some exciting social enterprises that will offer excellent work opportunities and the first young person on the programme has already taken up a place at Enterprising North West in Derry,” Programme Manager Audrey Murray said.

Before taking up their posts, each of the young people completes Enterprise Northern Ireland’s Exploring Enterprise Programme, which gives them a recognised qualification in business studies, helps develop their entrepreneurial skills and prepares them to take up employment. They will then receive mentoring support and attend interviews with the social enterprises.

The participating businesses are companies that are seeking to grow and expand staff numbers; they will be ideally placed to bring in innovative young people with energy and creative ideas.

“These are real jobs, and our goal is that at least 50 per cent 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 said adding that the programme will enable social enterprise companies to introduce new ideas and fresh thinking into their businesses.

The programme is currently finishing the recruitment process for unemployed young people aged 18-26. They are seeking both graduates and young people with no qualifications who want a career in business. The recruits will then be placed in a social enterprise that is ready and in a position to employ new staff.

Sandara Kelso-Robb, Executive Director of Lloyds TSB Foundation for Northern Ireland 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.”

Larne Enterprise Development Company Ltd (LEDCOM) is one of Northern Ireland’s longest established local enterprise agencies and has recently won the Promoting Entrepreneurship Award at the Northern Ireland Enterprise Awards. LEDCOM is a member of Enterprise Northern Ireland, the Association of Local Enterprise Agencies.

The Lloyds TSB Foundation for NI is committed to supporting underfunded, grassroots charities that enable people, especially disabled and disadvantaged people, to play a fuller role in society.

For further information about the Advance Programme contact Audrey Murray Tel: 028 2826 9973 E: audreymurray@ledcomwbp.org

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