FENLANDER: THe work experience scheme that benefits businesses as well as young umeployed

GIVE a couple of young people a job for a few weeks and it could work wonders both for them and your business.

The Little London Inn in March found that everyone was a winner when it signed up Stephen Hire and Emma Feetham, two 20-year-olds who had been struggling for ages to find work.

Both had been drawing Jobseeker’s Allowance for months before being given a trial at the pub. Now they have been taken on the staff and landlady Jan Holmes is delighted with them.

“They’re both fantastic – absolutely brilliant,” said Jan. “They’ve come on in leaps and bounds since coming here and I haven’t got a bad word to say about them.”

Stephen and Emma are two of the success stories of the Work Experience programme that was launched by the Government in January. They are among the young people who have got jobs with the same employers at the of their trial period, although that is not a guaranteed outcome.

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Stephen came to the Little London Inn in May, working mainly in the kitchen. He was taken on virtually full-time at the end of June.

“I’d been out of work for some time and it was really difficult,” he said. “I’d just moved into a flat with my girlfriend and I was struggling with money: It was hard just sitting around at home, and I wanted to get out and do something.”

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Emma agreed. After leaving college two years ago, she had also been looking for work without any success.

“I was given the chance to come here in June and got the hang of things quite quick. It’s been really good,” she said.

In Fenland the Work Experience programme is run through the Jobcentre Plus office in Wisbech and supported by Fenland District Council. It enables young people aged 18-24 who are on Jobseeker’s Allowance to volunteer for placements lasting between two and eight weeks. They are then matched with suitable host employers.

While they are on the scheme they continue to have their benefits and travel expenses paid, plus childcare costs if they are needed.

Since the scheme was launched, the Wisbech Jobcentre Plus has achieved the best results in the whole of the East of England.

To date 66 employers have signed up to offer work and 121 young people have been given placements. There are currently 90 posts either being filled or on offer.

Councillor Chris Seaton, FDC’s portfolio holder responsible for skills and job stimulation, said: “We’re fully behind this scheme as a valuable way of tackling youth unemployment. It gives young people the chance to prove what they can do and gain valuable skills and experience, while also enabling employers to try them out without necessarily having to take them on long-term.”

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