A TEENAGE apprentice is urging company bosses to “give the young people of Hartlepool a chance” – instead of condemning them to a life on the dole.
The call by 18-year-old Michael Woolston was made at the official launch of the Hartlepool Youth Investment Project (HYIP), which aims to tackle the high rate of youth unemployment in the town and improve job prospects for young people.
The project, which has been running for about a year already, hopes to get 150 16 to 24-year-olds into employment, and 500 16-18-year-olds to have access to an internship with a local company.
Michael was given a two-year placement with town firm Acorn Landscapes in November last year after impressing boss Paul Turnbull during a two-week trial.
And now the worker, who struggled at school and was expelled twice, hopes to carve himself out a career in landscape gardening - a far cry from a lot of his peers who are unfortunately jobless.
Michael, of Windsor Street, in the town centre area of Hartlepool, said: “I was absolutely buzzing to have been given this chance. I really struggled at school, I couldn’t deal with sitting in classrooms. I liked being out and doing more manual jobs.
“I was expelled from High Tunstall College of Science and ended up going to the Access to Learning school at Brierton top site for all the naughty kids.
“Then I went to Manor College of Technology and I got expelled from there. I ended up at a Home Farm, in Hart Village, which is like a training programme for kids like me where I learned brickwork, mechanics and animal care.
“I didn’t get GCSEs, just NVQ level 1s in maths, ICT and English.
“I thought the chances of me getting a job were slim to none. I thought I would have had a life on the dole, but I didn’t want that.”
He added: “When I got this apprenticeship I was absolutely buzzing. I turn up every day, I work my hardest and have good time-keeping.
“I just feel sorry for the young people who are out there looking for jobs, there’s nothing there for them. I think apprenticeships are a great idea. It’s cheaper for the employer and gives the likes of us the chance to prove ourselves.
“I think more firms should give us a chance.”
The HYIP was launched yesterday at Hartlepool’s Maritime experience with representatives of Hartlepool Borough Council, over 60 employers, educationalists, and civic leaders.