Kier helps vulnerable young people onto career ladder
Published by Elizabeth Pokorny for Kier Services in Education
Kier Harlow providing paid work placements for NEETS
Kier Harlow is providing paid work placements to young and vulnerable Harlow residents.
As part of Essex County Council’s ‘Essex Apprentices’ scheme, four young people have begun working with Kier Harlow. Aged between 16 and 17, the youngsters are all either currently not in education, employment or training, or have left school with no intended destination. Referrals to the scheme have included young people leaving care, young offenders, the long-term unemployed and low academic achievers.
Funding from the European Social Fund was secured by Essex County Council to deliver a number of engineering and manufacturing related apprentices for young people across the county in 2009. Following on from the success of the scheme, the Council bid for an extension in 2011 and began delivering a combination of further apprenticeships, as well as introducing paid work experience placements this year.
Essex County Council skills manager, James Wilkinson, said: “The inclusion of paid work experience placements was introduced when we identified a number of young people for whom the lack of experience and qualifications meant that apprenticeships were unachievable.
“We found that particularly young people from more disadvantaged backgrounds found it harder to gain experience or develop the skills needed to begin work and training. With this in mind, we introduced a number of paid placements spanning a variety of sectors.”
Through the scheme, young people are effectively employed by Essex County Council and then placed with a firm, such as Kier Harlow, for the duration of the programme. The scheme provides valuable work experience while also developing their awareness of the working world and improving their ‘employability’ skills.
Kier Harlow service manager for capital and third party works, Steve Ward, said: “With youth unemployment a big issue for Harlow we are proud to be helping to tackle worklessness and provide real and valuable experience to these young people. Those involved in the scheme will be gaining ‘on the job’ practice with us on routine repairs and maintenance jobs, which will provide them with an insight into our industry, and hopefully help them go on to begin a new career.”