BUSINESSES in Hartlepool are being urged to help tackle rising youth unemployment in the town by playing their part in a £1bn Government scheme.
Employment minister Mark Hoban has today challenged firms in the town to support young people out of work through the Youth Contract programme.
The Government claim the scheme will provide nearly half-a-million new opportunities for 18 to 24-year-olds through apprenticeships and voluntary work experience placements.
Last month, 1,470 people in the age group were claiming jobseekers allowance in the town, a figure which has increased for the last two months.
Mr Hoban is now calling on town businesses to play their part in reducing the amount of young jobless benefit claimants and has launched the Youth Contract: Works for Me campaign.
Businesses may receive a £2,275 payment for any young person they employ taking part in the Youth Contract programme.
Mr Hoban said: “Local businesses around the country are vital to tackling the problem of youth unemployment, and I want to make sure they take advantage of all the help we’re offering.
“With extra work experience places and wage incentives, we’re giving young people the skills they need to find work, and cutting costs for businesses to employ them.
“I’m urging businesses in Hartlepool, whatever their size, to make a commitment to our young people and give them a chance to show what they can do.”
Eighteen-year-old Sara Dudden, who lives in the town centre area of Hartlepool, was given her first career break when she was employed by Stranton Business Centre as a full-time office administrator through the Youth Contract wage incentive.
As well as working, Sara also receives training through Hartlepool College of Further Education and Teesside University which will result in her being a qualified accountant.
Colin Griffiths, a businesses consultant within the business centre, said: “Sara is getting a broad experience of work here with us.
“I have always been a strong supporter of apprenticeships and young people in training, in my days we just didn’t get those opportunities.
“There is a lot of passion in Hartlepool and a lot of good businesses, both big and small.
“I have always encouraged businesses to look at young people.
“It’s very hard for people out of work at the minute and by getting involved with the Youth Contract, businesses are giving young people the step into employment which they need.”
To find out more about the Youth Contact, employers should call Jobcentre Plus on 0845 6012001 (select option 2), or visit www.dwp.gov.uk/youth-contract