on target

BANG ON TARGET: Damien Wilson, Hartlepool Council's assistant director of planning
BANG ON TARGET: Damien Wilson, Hartlepool Council's assistant director of planning

A MAJOR scheme aimed at combatting youth unemployment is meeting its targets in Hartlepool.

The Department for Work and Pensions last year Awarded a £500,000 Flexible Support Fund grant with the aim of helping people, the majority of which will be aged between 18 and 24, into employment.

All five local authorities across the Tees Valley are involved and Hartlepool Borough Council is administering the scheme which sees the local authorities working with businesses.

The money is being used to help support 400 people in their fight to get back into work.

Hartlepool’s target is to help 80 young people over the year-long scheme and the authority is right on track with 28 achieved so far.

Each month has a different target and over the next few months the targets will increase.

The council’s cabinet committee met earlier this week to discuss the progress being made.

A report said that overall between April and October 2012, 306 young people were engaged across the region on the project with 114 employed as a result of the up skilling grant and 25 apprenticeships were created.

Damien Wilson, the council’s assistant director of planning and regeneration, said: “Hartlepool has achieved its targets so far.

“It is slightly down elsewhere but it is pretty much near enough and from a Hartlepool perspective we are bang on target.

“The likelihood is they will extend the scheme to allow us to meet the overall targets.

“We have to be mindful that we are in a difficult economic climate.”

He added that finding the placements with firms in town was the difficult part and Mayor Stuart Drummond asked what the incentives for firms are.

Mr Wilson said the scheme involved subsidies, training provided and an upskill for those taking part.

Mr Wilson added: “The chances are at the end of this the firms gets somebody that is employment ready.”

The programme is being delivered in conjunction with Jobcentre Plus, working with the Skills Funding Agency and existing public, private and third sector networks.

They all come together under the umbrella of the regeneration agency Tees Valley Unlimited.

The Flexible Support Fund grant will also help to fund partnerships with more than 500 Tees Valley employers - and encourage them to bring in new apprenticeships.