Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Visit to STRIDE: action on youth jobs crisis

Today I visited STRIDE, a Leicester-based social enterprise providing apprenticeships, employment opportunities and training to young people. 

This visit came the day before 18 new apprenticeship opportunities at the City Council are advertised. These new opportunities will be in administration and customer services. Apprenticeships in IT and premises management at the Council will be advertised during February.

Levels of youth unemployment are too high. The Step-Up programme which we have launched in Leicester will see the City Council funding 160 six month work placements for young people with local employers. We have had a good level of interest from employers and the first set of vacancies under this scheme will become available in February. This scheme builds on the Labour Government's Future Jobs Fund.

It is also good to see the NHS providing apprenticeships. 20 apprenticeships have been created recently by the NHS in Leicester.

It was excellent to meet with apprentices at STRIDE today and tour the facilities which Dave Brazier and his team have developed.

At STRIDE in Leicester meeting bricklaying apprentice Alex.

It was announced on 15 February that STRIDE had closed and ceased trading. This news is obviously devastating for the people employed there and the apprentices, including those I met when I visited. Since this announcement I have attending a meeting convened to bring together many organisations who want to help find alternative opportunities for the apprentices and young people who were on courses at STRIDE. 

I have offered city council support, including funding, to help ensure the apprentices and young people are supported into new courses and opportunities. I understand that some of the former staff at STRIDE are working to set up a new company with the aim of continuing some of the apprenticeships and vocational courses and I hope this is successful. 

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