WORK IN PROGRESS: Choices event just the job for teenagers

Ian McGuckin and Craig Shields (right) of East Durham College with St Hild's pupils (left to right) Ryan Harrison, Sean Barnfather and Ryan Peart
Ian McGuckin and Craig Shields (right) of East Durham College with St Hild's pupils (left to right) Ryan Harrison, Sean Barnfather and Ryan Peart

AN event to give youngsters the best possible future was hailed a huge success as 1,200 teenagers picked up valuable information.

Dozens of further education and training providers as well as employers attended the Choices day as part of efforts to tackle Hartlepool’s high youth unemployment rates.

Around 1,200 15 and 16-year-olds from all of Hartlepool’s secondary schools went to the event to help steer them on the right path.

Recent figures show that Hartlepool has the fourth highest rate of youth unemployment in the country for 18 to 24-year-olds.

The rate of 15.8 per cent equates to 1,320 young people and is significantly higher than the national average of 7.6 per cent.

It comes after the Mail launched the Work in Progress campaign to raise awareness of the plight of unemployed people in the town.

Tom Argument, school improvement adviser at Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “It is difficult but there are opportunities for young people, particularly in engineering and manufacturing areas.

“We have done events like this for a few years, but this one seems to have been bigger and better – probably the best we have ever had.

“There were 80 members of staff from different organisations giving advice and guidance.

“We have got our best post-16 results for youngsters from Hartlepool and we are seeing better outcomes at 18 ad 19 in exam results too.”

The event was part of the Hartlepool Youth Investment Project which was recently approved by the council’s cabinet.

The two-year project aims to prepare teenagers for the world of work and enterprise through better working between schools, colleges, universities and employers.

Some 26 exhibitors set up stalls at yesterday’s fair including Hartlepool Sixth Form College, English Martyrs Sixth Form College, Hartlepool College of Further Education and the University of Teesside.

Various work-based training providers also explained what opportunities were available including JHP Training, Nacro, and Springboard.

Targets of the Hartlepool Youth Investment Project include giving 1,000 14 to 16-year-olds access to vocational training and work-related learning.

Other aims are to provide 200 young people identified as at risk of becoming long term not in education, employment or training, mentoring support and a re-engagement programme.