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North East businesses helping young people at risk of long-term unemployment into work

Employers in the North East are helping young people at risk of long term unemployment take their first steps into the workplace.

Businesses including Sunderland-based automotive manufacturer Unipres have signed up to the Kickstart Scheme, which provides funding to employers to create six month job placements for people aged between 16 and 24 who are receiving Universal Credit.

Unipres currently employs 35 Kickstart trainees and has plans to recruit five more in the next few weeks.

Rob Dodds, Apprentice Coordinator at Unipres, explained: “The reason we got involved is that it’s an ideal opportunity to give young people a chance to gain valuable experience in the workplace.

“They’re indispensable to the business as well – it’s another form of recruitment for us and these are the future stars. It’s a win-win situation for the business and for the trainees.”

The Kickstart Scheme offers funding to cover the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus the associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions. Funding is also available to support young people to develop new skills and to help them move into sustained employment after they have completed their Kickstart-funded job.

20-year-old Ehsan Izadi, who is working as part of the Quality Assurance team at Unipres, said: “I was working in a pizza shop but when COVID came around, the shop was closed. I was looking for a job and saw the opportunity with Unipres. It was easy to apply through the job centre and it was a big opportunity for me.

“I like learning and improving my CV – if you have six months experience at Unipres it’s really important for your CV.”

Another North East business taking part in the Kickstart scheme is Northumbrian Water. Kay Penney, Human Resources Director at Northumbrian Water, said: “When the Kickstart Scheme was announced by the Government, we jumped at the opportunity to support young people to increase their employment prospects.

“So many of our workforce have come to us as young people, taking their first steps in the world of work, or returning to employment after enforced breaks, and they have become valuable employees playing important roles in our business.

“The jobs market is a very competitive place at the moment, whatever experience you have, but we know many young people are really finding it hard to get a break. We hope that the experience, learning and qualification they get from coming to us through the Kickstart Scheme will give them a valuable step up.”

Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, added: “Through Kickstart, businesses can help young people gain skills and experience that will help them to avoid long-term unemployment.

“And of course, support like this is especially important now, as so many young people have seen their plans affected by the pandemic. The fact that the North East business community has the opportunity to step up and help young people avoid unemployment is fantastic.”

Joanne Jobling, Service Leader for DWP in Northumberland, Tyne & Wear said:

“Kickstart has already made a remarkable difference to the lives of many young people – with the support of businesses, we want to maximise the impact of Kickstart in the North East, changing more lives for the better and supporting our economy now and in the future. We are working closely with the North East LEP and other key partners to encourage as many young people as possible to contact their local jobcentre to apply for the fantastic opportunities that are being created.”

Businesses in the North East can apply to join the Kickstart Scheme through the North East Growth Hub. Businesses can also register to join an online event by the IoD North East on 30 June, explaining more about Kickstart. Register for a free place here.

Kickstart vacancies in the North East will be advertised via northeastopportunities.co.uk.

Home / Northumbrian Water

North East LEP supports SMEs to attend NWG Innovation Festival 2018

13 North East businesses are being given the chance to win £1,000 to support them in taking part in this year’s NWG Innovation Festival.

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership, in partnership with +ADD Strategy and Northumbrian Water, is sponsoring 13 SMEs to join one of 13 ‘sprints’ at the NWG Innovation Festival, which takes place from the 9-13 July 2018 at Newcastle Racecourse.

The ‘sprints’ ask societal and environmental questions that crack teams of experts try to answer during the five-day event. Businesses work to develop ideas and real-world innovative solutions that can be brought to life using design thinking techniques.

Last year’s festival resulted in innovative projects that are making a real difference to the world right now. These include the Newcastle Moss Tree, the introduction of the Refill campaign into the North East, Essex and Suffolk, and artificial intelligence projects including the ongoing development of Alexa skills for the company’s customers.

Alan Welby, Innovation Director at the North East LEP, said:  “Innovation means making the most of new ideas, products, processes and applications to develop new businesses and make existing ones more effective and profitable. It’s at the heart of what we do at the North East LEP and that’s why we’re delighted to team up with Northumbrian Water to offer 13 SMEs the opportunity to get involved with the Innovation Festival. It’s a fantastic opportunity – SMEs are a hotbed of creativity and ideas – this is a chance to work with some really big corporations to help identify solutions that will lead to real business opportunities for them.”

To be in with a chance of winning the £1,000 sponsorship – courtesy of the North East LEP – businesses must be formally registered SMEs in the UK or Europe and available to attend the full five days of the Festival.

For more information on the competition and how to enter, click here. The deadline for entries is midnight on Thursday 28 June.

Some of the Big Questions waiting to be answered at this year’s NWG Innovation Festival include: How can we improve customers’ lives by making the most of Smart technology? And how can innovation and tech improve Design, Construction Operation and Maintenance? And, what will the future of transport look like? Click here to see all this year’s ‘sprints’.

For more information about NWG Innovation Festival, visit www.innovationfestival.org.