Since the launch of the youth employment scheme in July 2012, 68 opportunities have been offered by employers in the North Down area. As of 1 March, 26 young people had availed themselves of those opportunities. Of the 26 participating in the scheme, 10 have entered full-time employment. Also, 39 young people have secured six months’ temporary employment under the First Start initiative.
Last September, a programme entitled CRAFT — careers-related advice and further training — which is a joint initiative between my Department, North Down YMCA and the South Eastern Regional College, was piloted in the Bangor area. Eleven young people participated in that programme, and the outcomes were very positive. Following that success, another CRAFT programme commenced on 4 February.
In the period from April to December 2012, the Employment Service helped 744 young unemployed people aged 18-24 to find employment in the North Down area. Furthermore, my assessment is that we have also been successful in implementing a continuum of provision to enable unemployed young people to overcome their barriers to employment and to progress onto the youth employment scheme as well as other programmes and schemes.
Under the Pathways to Success strategy, I introduced initiatives and programmes in the North Down area such as the collaboration and innovation fund, which will provide £2·5 million to Fit4life, the South Eastern Regional College, the Training for Women Network and the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust to help over 1,800 local unemployed young people to gain economically relevant skills. In addition, the pathways allowance is available to eligible young people participating in local projects supported by the European social fund.
Later this year, the community-based access programme will provide essential skills qualifications to 16- to 18-year-olds, and the community family support programme will help and support the most disadvantaged local families.