More than 2000 County Durham youngsters who are not in work, education or training have signed up to take part in DurhamWorks. DurhamWorks is a project that aims to help people aged 16 to 24 by improving their skills, increasing their opportunities, mentoring them and guiding them towards work.
Run by Durham County Council, the £17-million project also involves a range of other groups and organisations, including Gateshead College, the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, Consett YMCA, the East Durham Business Service and other partners.
DurhamWorks can assist young people with job applications, help them improve their maths and English, and help them with costs such as travel, clothing and childcare.
The project has now been running for six months. By July 2018, it aims to have guided nearly 6000 youngsters towards employment.
Councillor Ossie Johnson, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for children and young people’s services, commented, “In only a few months, DurhamWorks has successfully signed up over 2000 16 to 24-year-olds who were not in employment, education or training.”
“Unfortunately, due to issues including the late introduction of increased requirements by the Department of Work and Pensions and a delay in the payment of funding from the government, we have had to request that our original target for sign-ups in 2016 be reduced.”
“Yet the overall target of involving 5,830 people in the DurhamWorks programme by July 2018 remains unchanged and, having now introduced a system to gather and verify eligibility, we expect the numbers of participants to increase significantly in the coming weeks.”
Councillor Johnson added, “We are working with employers and Business Durham to ensure that there are jobs and apprenticeships for people to progress into, and we remain confident that the project will be a success.”
300 small businesses are already taking part in the project. The council says that the firms involved in the scheme appreciate the support the project gives them to help them choose the best employees. The council urges more companies to get involved as doing so could help them recruit valuable young staff members.
Although some indicators have shown a significant drop in County Durham’s youth unemployment figures, the council says that there are still too many young people who are not in employment, education or training.
DurhamWorks has been funded by a £12.78 million grant from the European Council’s Youth Employment Initiative. The project has also received £4.26 in match funding.