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Salford unites to help teens

18 April, 2019

Employers, educational establishments and public sector organisations, including Salix Homes, are uniting in Salford to help young people find their way in life.

Salford has double the national average number of 16 and 17 year olds classed as NEET  (5.8%  of young people compared to 2.6%) and an estimated 2000 young people aged 18 to 24 who are not claiming benefits – known as hidden NEETs – who are unable to get help as a result.

A new, two year action plan to halve the numbers has now been launched, supported by Salford’s public and private sector organisations.

It will further develop successful initiatives such as Build Salford which has seen 72 young people find training and jobs in Salford’s booming construction industry and a supported internship scheme which has helped young people with special educational needs and disabilities in the workplace.

Deputy City Mayor Councillor John Merry said: “Being unemployed and having no focus for the future is not what we want for our young people. This is about everyone from families, young people and schools to education and training providers, housing associations and private sector companies pulling together to tackle this issue.

“Businesses predict skills gaps are likely to remain or even get worse over the next three to five years if we do nothing and there are concerns that young people don’t have the core skills, motivation and preparation for work that employers want.

“Together in Salford we can change that and grow the workforce our economy needs  We can work together to break down the barriers young people face – be it mental health issues, difficult family circumstances, lack of skills, confidence or motivation – and help them find jobs, training and courses where they can thrive and grow.”

Michael Sheehan, the Principal of Salford City College, said” Salford City College is committed to supporting this city wide initiative to making sure that the young people of Salford are provided with the support and expertise that they need to be successful.

“Build Salford, The Salford Royal Internship, the Salford Royal Cadet Programme, The Prince’s Trust and the Passport to College programmes are wonderful examples of how the college prepares people for their next steps.”

Salford housing association Salix Homes, which owns 8,000 properties across the city, is also backing the new scheme.

Salix Homes chief executive Lee Sugden said: “Salix Homes is proud to be part of this new initiative which will provide young people in Salford with the support they need to make their way in life and build themselves a brighter future.

“Here at Salix Homes, we are passionate about helping young people and giving them the chance they need to thrive. It’s not right that some people are held back in life because of where they live or their personal circumstances, so we look forward to working alongside our partners to provide further opportunities to those teenagers who need it most.”

Over the next two years, led by Salford City Council, schools and organisations will work together to improve their understanding and identification of young people at risk of NEET, improve access to mental health support and provide more support at key ‘transition’ stages, such as moving from school to college and to those not claiming benefits. 

The partners will also enhance and develop post 16 training and employment to make the most of opportunities in Salford’s booming digital industries and the high demand for workers in key sectors such as construction, health and social care.

 

Case Study

Nineteen year old Connor Denman knows just what it’s like to be out of work and not in education of training.

Homeless at 15, struggling to hold down a job and taking training courses to help build his CV – he’s lived it all.

But now he’s working at Connexions careers service and hoping to train as an employment coach to help other young people achieve their dreams.

Connor, from Pendleton, moved into supported accommodation and hostels during his final year at school after family difficulties.

“I had great support from my sister so I did okay at school and managed to stay focused though things were very up and down,” said Connor.

“I did a lot of courses with the Princes Trust and Salford Futures where you get work experience with Salford City Council. I got a job working in a warehouse, but I was getting up at 4am to cycle to work and working 40 hours a week. After taxes and rent and bills I had about 15 hours’ worth of wages left so I left the job and thought I’d just build up my CV by taking courses.”

While completing a traineeship with Salford Futures, Connor’s Connexions mentor suggested he apply for an apprenticeship with the service.

“He said it would suit my strengths and I’d used the service since I was in school so I applied and got the job. I’ve been here eight months now doing a level two in business administration but I want to become an employment coach and train as an advisor. I can tell young people I’ve been in your shoes and gone through the same system and that’s a powerful message.  If I could do that I would be over the moon.”

Sean Mclaughlin, team leader, from Connexions said: “Like many young people Connor didn’t know what he wanted to do and he struggled to stay engaged. He spent a number of periods without a job and out of education or training but started Salford Futures in February last year.

“Connor was inspired by the support he received when he was homeless so wanted to work in a public service to help others. The Connexions apprenticeship was ideal and he’s making great progress, continually taking on new responsibilities and rising to challenges. It’s the kind of success story we want to see for all young people in Salford.”