A project which has helped thousands of young people get on the right career track will continue for another five years after securing £8.8m new funding.
The £19.2m Youth Employment Initiative, which launched three years ago, was hailed for helping to bring about a dramatic fall in Hartlepool’s youth unemployment level.
Working in partnership with a consortium of 27 schools, colleges, businesses, the council, and specialist training providers the programme has supported 5,240 people 15 to 29 across the Tees Valley and helped 2,195 to progress into education, employment, training or apprenticeships.
They include 852 people from Hartlepool who took part in projects called Tees Valley Pathways and Tees Valley Routeways that were due to come to an end at the end of July this year.
But the programme, managed by Hartlepool Borough Council, is now set to be extended until the end of 2023 after a growth request to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) for £8.8m.
Just over £6m of previous funding that has not been spent can also be used to continue the programme.
Patrick Wilson, the council’s learning and skills manager, presented a report to Hartlepool councillors, which stated: “By the end of the Youth Employment Initiative the council will have secured and managed the delivery of circa £28.1m which is unprecedented in size and scale for Tees Valley European Social Fund programmes.”
Councillor Kevin Cranney, chair of the council’s Regeneration Services Committee, said: “I think it’s an excellent scheme considering we were one of the biggest for out of work claimants in the country, caused a lot by Universal Credit.
“I think without this work that would have been a lot higher.”
Hartlepool’s youth unemployment rate fell from 17.4% in 2012 to 3.3% by December 2016, the biggest reduction over the same period in the country.
An independent evaluation concluded the Pathways and Routeways programmes provided very good value for money.
And the DWP said: “The projects are being run in an efficient and compliant manner and are having a significant positive impact locally on redressing issues with unemployment, lack of education/training and supporting participants back into the labour market, as well as the individual objectives of each project.”