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EU delegation visits Inspire!’s NEET programme

Around 40 European Union officials visited Hackney to see the work that Inspire! is doing to help teenagers into education, training or employment (EET).

We are leading a consortium of seven agencies, across six boroughs, on The ESF NEET Programme to tackle the problem of youth unemployment. The initiative is funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and Skills Funding Agency.

Officials chose the programme for the visit because of its success in re-engaging 16-19 year-olds who are NEET (not in education, employment or training). Since delivery started in March 2012, 332 young people have taken part, 133 of whom have already moved into education, employment or training (EET). The overall target is to have engaged with 413 young people by December 2014.

Delegates heard details of the project during their visit, hosted at YOH!, a youth charity in Haggerston and one of the consortium’s delivery partners. The six-phase programme starts with a support worker assessing each candidate on their personal circumstances, skills, learning style and interests so that together, they can draw up a personalised action plan. A series of workshops and skills development sessions follow. These are tailored to individual need but employability skills are a focal point. The young person may undertake work experience, attend a CV or interview workshop or brush up on their maths and English. Thereafter, they are supported into sustained education, employment or training with milestones at six, 13 and 26 weeks.

One aspect of the project that particularly interested the delegation was targeting young women. “This has posed a number of challenges for us,” Project Manager, Dorothy Hodgson told them. “For example, young women worry about what people think about the jobs they do, so they can be pushed towards careers that they are not really interested in or, in certain communities, there is pressure for young women not to work. We have had to put our heads together and share best practice to come up with solutions and strategies for getting round these obstacles.”

After the presentation, the visitors had a chance to network with those involved in the programme, including some of the young people who have already benefitted. Nathan Nolan and Nafisam Islam, both supported by First Rung in Barnet are two examples. Nathan is interested in marketing and, by coincidence, First Rung was looking for some help in this area so he has been offered a placement with them. Nafisam is more than happy with her current circumstances: “I’m doing work experience with a nursery which is great as I’ve always wanted to work with children.”

The ESF NEET Programme has only 83 more places to fill on the scheme within the available funding yet research shows there are more than 2,000 known NEET young people across the target boroughs. David Blagbrough, Inspire!’s Director said that the charity is looking at other potential funding sources to continue the scheme after 2014.