The initiative, which was piloted in the North West last year has already started recruiting young people throughout the North East, Wales and Yorkshire, and will be expanding to the rest of the UK later in the year.
Those involved are offered a “job interview” for the scheme, followed by an unpaid work experience placement of up to four weeks. It is hoped that 100 vulnerable young people will have participated in the scheme by the end of the year.
A Barnardo’s spokeswoman defended the decision not to pay the young people that take part. She said the young people undertaking the work placements “must be supervised at all times”, and they are not “deemed to be adding value to the business, but rather learning and gaining valuable skills and experience from it”.
She added that KFC covers the cost of travel, lunch and uniforms for the young people involved in the scheme.
So far 70 young people have been referred to KFC under the scheme. Of these 20 have taken part in a work placement and 10 have gone on to find a job.
One of those is 20-year-old Jamie, who has been offered a job at KFC in Manchester.
He said: “I’ve been in and out of care homes most of my life. I could never concentrate in class, and I didn’t get good grades. To be honest I thought I’d never get a job. But Barnardo’s has helped me deal with my problems, and thanks to KFC’s training, now I’ve got a job. I feel proud of myself.”
Barnardo’s chief executive Anne Marie Carrie added: “The government has made some headway to tackling the issue of youth unemployment but private and voluntary sector partnerships have a vital role to play in equipping all young people with confidence and skills on their journey towards work.”
“Collectively, we must commit to doing whatever it takes to get young people into work, so that we can look the most marginalised in the eye and know that we are doing right by them.”