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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 / Unipres

North East teachers forge links with engineering sector

Every year, Tomorrow’s Engineers Week inspires the next generation of engineers, letting young people know about the career opportunities available within the engineering industry.

In the North East, as part of an event organised by the North East LEP, EngineeringUK, Unipres UK Ltd and STEM Learning, a group of STEM subject teachers were invited behind the scenes at Unipres to gain an insight into the career paths on offer to their students.

Moira Shaftoe, Employer Support Manager (NE) at EngineeringUK said:

It’s great to have Unipres on board as part of the Tomorrow’s Engineers North East employer Network. Tomorrow’s Engineers Week shines a spotlight on engineering careers in a way that young people may have never considered before.

We understand the importance of taking teachers on that journey too, many of whom have limited knowledge about the exciting career opportunities available in the sector. We aim to inform teachers about the routes into and relevance of STEM subjects to those careers and how to maximise the potential of engaging with an employer to help bring the STEM curriculum to life. Participating in the event at Unipres will enable teachers to use the experience to enrich the teaching and learning of STEM subjects in school and contribute to the development of their wider careers strategy.

The teachers attending the event were all from schools which are part of the Good Career Guidance Benchmarks project which is being piloted in the North East. One of the benchmarks of the project, which aims to improve students’ transition from school to work or further study, is encounters between schools and employers and employees.

As well as a behind-the-scenes site tour of the Unipres Sunderland plant, which manufactures steel components used to form the internal structures of cars, the teachers heard from the company’s HR Manager and Apprentice Coordinator, who spoke about routes into a career in engineering or advanced manufacturing.

Rob Dodds, Apprentice Coordinator at Unipres UK Ltd, said:

We’ve been working with Moira as an active partner of the Tomorrow’s Engineers employer network for a couple of years now. We have a strong outreach programme that extends across the region, inspiring young people of all ages about careers in engineering and manufacturing and career opportunities within our business. The event we hosted during Tomorrow’s Engineers Week provided teachers with an opportunity to explore how they can make use of the Unipres resource, and wider network of local employers, by integrating employer engagement into the curriculum.

The day also included a presentation from a teacher who had completed an Insights into Industry placement, and time for attendees to plan how they will use their findings when they return to the classroom.

Chris Bryant, a teacher at the King Edward VI School in Morpeth, said:

This event will help me to build careers learning into the curriculum. Having links with employers makes a big difference to being able to use real world situations, companies and people to allow students a more thorough understanding of their future opportunities.

Moira Shaftoe added: “We want to help make young people aware of the variety of opportunities there are in the engineering sector, especially in the North East which is home to world-leading engineering organisations. We plan to work with more companies in the region, helping to build and nurture relationships between teachers and employers.”

Find out more about Tomorrow’s Engineers