Charities unveil employment partnership for disadvantaged young people

By Derren Hayes

| 17 July 2013

Up to 25,000 disadvantaged young people will be helped into education, training or work over the next three years through employment skills programmes set up by four UK charities.

Work experience will be a key part of the new traineeship schemes. Picture: Arlen Connelly

The Opportunity Partnership is bringing together schemes run by Catch22, St Giles Trust, The Prince's Trust and Tomorrow's People aimed at helping 16- to 25-year-olds who are not in education, employment or training (Neet) and who also face additional barriers to succeeding such as homelessness, poverty or mental health problems.

The partnership is being funded through a £30m grant from HSBC. As well as providing money, the bank will also expand its apprenticeship programme to offer 700 places a year, and its staff will offer mentoring, coaching and workshops for young people.

The initiative will also create 100 young job ambassadors who have turned their lives around with the help of the Prince's Trust, and will encourage other disadvantaged young people to get involved in one of the job schemes run by the four charities involved in the partnership.

The launch of the partnership comes on the same day that the government has outlined details for its training and employment scheme to help young people get workplace experience.

From August, 16- to 24-year-olds will be able to apply for a six-month traineeship that could incorporate a package of training and work experience at more than 100 companies taking part in the scheme.
The government expects the traineeships to last for a maximum of six months and include a work placement of between six weeks and five months. The traineeship may also include work preparation training such as interview skills and CV writing, as well as English and maths tuition if the trainee has not achieved an A*-C grade at GCSE. 

A delivery framework, an updated version of which is published today, sets out how traineeships will work and has been shaped, the government says, around the views of the 450 respondents to January's traineeship discussion paper.

Some of the companies signed up to the scheme include Virgin Media, BT, General Motors and Brompton Bicycles. They are expected to deliver the programme in partnership with trainers and educators with a good or excellent Ofsted rating.

The Association of Colleges (AoC) welcomed the scheme as having the potential to reduce young people not in education, employment and training, but questioned the conditions attached to accessing it.

AoC chief executive Martin Doel said: "We fear that benefit rules may prevent some young people accessing a traineeship, with the retention of jobseeker's allowance being dependent upon their local Jobcentre Plus office. Previous experience with Jobcentre Plus is that this discretion is exercised inconsistently."

The joint Department for Education and Department for Business Innovation and Skills initiative was initially expected to be offered to 16- to 19-year-olds, but the government announced its intention to extend the age range in last month's Spending Round.

Traineeships are available to young people up to 25 if they have a learning difficulty or an education, health and care plan issued by their local authority.

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