Young people from Ballymoney have been part of a unique pilot programme, which has achieved an 91% success rate in finding employment while simultaneously boosting social enterprise businesses.
The Advance Programme, which has just been completed, targeted 40 young people aged between 18 and 26, giving them 24 weeks’ paid employment in a range of social enterprises with the goal of transforming these short term posts into permanent jobs. Three from Ballymoney took part in the Advance Programme: Xenia Haines and Jason McLaughlin who worked at CAN and Thomas Boyd at Acorn. This £300,000 pilot project was developed and managed by LEDCOM in conjunction with Enterprise Northern Ireland and funded by Lloyds Bank Foundation for NI in partnership with Lloyds Banking Group.
“This programme not only gave young people a chance to gain great experience and to secure a permanent job, it also gave a boost to the 27 social enterprises who found employees with new ideas, energy and vibrancy,” explained Programme Manager Audrey Murray.
“We had hoped to achieve a 50% success rate in finding permanent employment for these young people but it’s a testament to their ability and drive, and the support and mentoring we were able to give them, that in total 91% are now working. Businesses sometimes need to take a chance on young people and see the bigger picture,” she added.
Sandara Kelso-Robb, Executive Director of Lloyds Bank Foundation for NI said: “This was a new concept, it was a risk taking concept and it’s one we’ve now proven can work. This funding of £300,000 is the single largest award given in the Foundation’s history but it marries the areas of education, employment and enterprise that we have always supported.”
Before taking up their posts, each of the young people received personal mentoring support and completed Enterprise Northern Ireland’s Exploring Enterprise Programme, which gives them a recognised qualification in business studies, helps develop their entrepreneurial skills and prepares them to take up employment.
The participating businesses are companies that are seeking to grow and expand staff numbers; they will be ideally placed to bring in innovative young people with energy and creative ideas.
Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster said: “The Advance Programme is a wonderful initiative offering young people an opportunity to develop their skills and progress their career development. All those involved in the programme have worked extremely hard and have demonstrated a high level of commitment and professionalism, with 91% of participants now in permanent employment.
“Young people are our future and have an important role to play in growing our economy. I would like to commend all those involved in the implementation of this project which ensures that we continue to recruit and retain the most talented of people.”