Teesside’s LEP gets cash boost to fight youth unemployment

TEESSIDE’S Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has secured more than £800,000 to help tackle youth unemployment across the area.

The Department of Work and Pensions has awarded a £500,000 Flexible Support Fund grant, which was boosted by contributions from Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland and Stockton local authorities.

The programme will now bring together the Jobcentre Plus, Skills Funding Agency and existing public, private and third sector networks under the LEP, Tees Valley Unlimited.

Hartlepool Borough Council will administer the partnership, which aims to help more than 400 individuals in Teesside back into the workplace.

The funding will allow partners to provide individual support packages as they look to enable young people facing multiple barriers to secure sought-after jobs.

Stephen Catchpole, Tees Valley Unlimited’s managing director, said: “Whereas previous programmes have offered a prescribed route, the Flexible Support Fund grant will give specific, personally targeted help in areas such as literacy, numeracy, work trials, work experience, volunteering and bespoke training.

“Supporting young people ahead of national initiatives, it will be linked to routes to employment within high growth sectors across Tees Valley including renewable energy and health and social care and furthermore, provide continued in-work support for both the individual and the employer.”

The Flexible Support Fund grant will additionally fund partnership working with over 500 Teesside employers to encourage the recruitment of individuals progressing through the scheme, including many new apprenticeships.

Officials say that this enhanced level of employer engagement will provide a long term legacy in helping companies identify and realise the opportunities which apprenticeships and in-work programmes can offer both their business and existing staff.

Paul Chapman, Jobcentre Plus district manager said: “I am delighted to continue our partnership with Tees Valley Unlimited and each of the local authorities in the area.

“This funding presents a real opportunity to make a difference to many young people, helping them towards sustainable employment.”

Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond said the funding was a further, welcome boost to Hartlepool and Teesside.

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Paul Champion

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