Government’s ‘Youth Contract’ must provide opportunities to develop the skills needed by employers for it to have a long-term impact on unemployment, EAL has said.

The specialist awarding organisation for industry qualifications has welcomed the announcement of £1bn to provide over 400,000 work places for 18-24 year olds, but stated that the scheme must appeal to employers by filling skills gaps as well as providing career opportunities for young people.

Ann Watson, Managing Director at EAL, said: “Placements and work experience can be valuable tools to help young people get their first job or return to work after a prolonged period of unemployment.  But this would be a wasted opportunity if, when placements come to an end, those same young people find themselves back where they started, without the long-term benefits of a permanent job or evidence of the workplace skills they have achieved.

“The Chancellor George Osborne said in his Autumn Statement that too many young people are leaving school without the necessary skills for the world of work.  To be of lasting value, support for the unemployed needs to focus on giving them the skills employers look for to make them job-ready – for example, understanding the challenges facing the modern workplace, such as sustainability in engineering and manufacturing.

“EAL has had great success getting disadvantaged people into employment through our work with Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK and the NAC Group. Jointly, we developed a vocational training programme* based on employer needs that has helped over 1,100 learners get into work – and stay there.  It has had a knock-on effect for other companies in the North East and continues to lift people of all ages out of unemployment.  They also achieve a nationally recognised EAL qualification**, enhance their CV and gain the confidence to apply for jobs they may not have previously considered.”

The programme has seen a five-fold increase in the number of unemployed applicants who successfully pass Nissan’s recruitment process – from 12 per cent to 60 per cent.  It has also helped Nissan achieve a 50 per cent reduction in the number of recruits who do not last beyond the initial 13 weeks of employment.

Paul Robson, Chief Executive of the NAC Group, said: “Youth unemployment is one of the greatest challenges of our times.  We need to continue to be creative in opening up more employment opportunities as many of the young people that we help have experienced long periods of unemployment or have no experience of work at all.  They often lack formal qualifications and self-belief.  In partnership with EAL, our training programmes challenge young people to think and behave differently, achieving skills innovatively to respond quickly to meet the needs of employers.”

Gareth Douglas was among the successful learners who have gained permanent roles at Nissan, after an eight month period of unemployment.  He said: “If it wasn’t for the course, I wouldn’t have my job at Nissan or have gained all this valuable experience.  This process has made a dramatic change to my life.  I don’t feel that there are any obstacles any more.  I am very happy working at Nissan, and I am hoping to make a long and successful career of it.”

* UK unemployment is at a 17 year high according to figures released by the Office of National Statistics in September.  While Government explores the idea of sector-based work academies to reverse the trend, a training scheme involving Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK, the NAC Group and EAL continues to make a positive impact in the North East.  Read the full case study here.

** The EAL Level 2 Certificate in Preparation for Working in the Engineering and Manufacturing Industry (QCF) is now available to employers, colleges and training providers to offer for learners nationwide, with funding available to support those who are out of employment and claiming active benefits.


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