Programme to tackle youth unemployment

Job Centre Plus Team

A radical scheme devised by Weston College and Job Centre Plus is targeting long-term unemployed young people.

N-Gage 19+ offers a unique eight week intense programme covering job skills, personal and social development, volunteering and business enterprise for 19 to 24 year olds.

Special mentors are used to support learners on the course.

Weston College Recruitment Coordinator James Wilmot said: “It’s been incredibly successful with all but one student completing the programme or obtaining a job.

“Mentors are crucial to its success. They give four hours over eight weeks which makes such a difference and we feel N-Gage could go UK-wide.”

Latest Government figures show 1.03 million young people aged 16 – 24 are unemployed, including nearly 1,000 in North Somerset.

N-Gage 19+ has brought together young people not in education, employment or training to enhance their work and education prospects.

At the end of eight weeks two students signed up for the Prince’s Trust Programme, one is on a full-time IT course at Weston College, another has been offered a job and the rest have decided to follow new career paths.

Justine Grimstead, 19, of Coleridge Road, who is set to go to Cornwall to be a riding instructor said: “N-Gage has built up my confidence and having a mentor really helped.

‘I’d only ever used a computer for Facebook, now I can do Power Point, Word and Excel. It was great to meet up with other people and not feel so isolated.”

Her mentor Lisa Smith, who owns The Pet Studio dog boarding kennels and grooming business in Congresbury, offered face-to-face, telephone and email support.

She said: “I was approached by the College and it’s the first time I have done anything like this.

“I know how difficult it is for people to get a job without experience first. I’ve loved being a mentor and would be very happy to do this again.”

Partnership Manager of Job Centre Plus Tim Cowley, said: “The College has been very supportive with this scheme and mentoring has proved key to getting young people back to work.

“We expected a 50 per cent drop out but to have all but one of them complete the course or obtain a job offer is brilliant.

The mum of 24-year-old Charlotte Gould, Sheila Birch, 64, of Canberra Road, Weston said: “It’s been difficult to see Charlotte unemployed for so long. She became very despondent when all she could get was seasonal work.

“This course has helped her get her life back.”

Eloise Ryan, 25, of Worle, is a full-time mum to her seven year old son. She said: “It’s been a great experience and made me think I could be a social worker.”

For more information on courses at Weston College please call The Hub at Weston College 01934 411 751 or go to www.weston.ac.uk

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