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Pre-lockdown, 750,000 young people were NEET (not in education, employment or training) in the UK and 3.1% of young people were NEET in Blackburn with Darwen. Recent Blackburn with Darwen reports indicate 3000 16-24 year olds are now claiming universal credit. The Resolution Foundation estimates that a further 600,000 young people could find themselves unemployed this year, with estimates from the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) and Learning and Work Institute (LWI) that 500,000 young people will become long term unemployed over the next eighteen months.

Blackburn Job Centre asked Blackburn Youth Zone and Newground for support in helping 16-24 year olds back into employment, education and training.  We partnered up with Newground to run the ‘Planning Your Future’ project. The project, which ran at Blackburn Youth Zone for 6 weeks was a bespoke employment programme that engaged young people in an interactive environment as well as developing their employability skills and knowledge. 

Nine young people of mixed ability who were unemployed and not in education joined the project which ran for 2 days a week for 3 weeks and covered a range of different topics including career aspirations, identifying personal job skills, CV building and a talk through of the governments kickstart initiative. Towards the end of the 3 weeks each young person took part in a face-to-face mock interview and a video call interview, they looked at different interview techniques and all received valuable feedback to support them in the future.  

Each young person who took part went on a real personal development journey, growing in confidence as the course went on.

Out of the nine young people that started the course, one had a job interview and is awaiting the result, one moved onto a construction course at Blackburn College, two have been earmarked for Kickstart vacancies at Together Housing, two have signed up for a functional skills course and one has been referred to a traineeships programme with a partner agency. 

A standout achievement of the course was that two of the participants also gained employment from the job searching session we did. One young person contacted a local construction company during the session and was called back within an hour after his initial application offering him temporary employment to start the next day as a labourer for 2 months at a construction site in Blackburn. Another young person applied at Iceland as a customer team member and received confirmation of an interview during the job searching session. He was also offered a role to start when the course finished which he accepted. 

Well done to everyone who took part in the project, we can’t wait to see where your employment journey’s take you next.