A SCHEME aimed at getting jobs for young people in South Tyneside has found work for more than 80.
The initiative, launched in April, provides cash to small and medium-sized firms in the borough towards paying the salary of workers aged between 18 and 24 who have been unemployed for more than three months.
South Tyneside Council leader, Coun Iain Malcolm, envisaged getting 100 young people back into the workplace by the end of the year, and the latest figures show that 84 have found employment.
One business to benefit from the wage subsidy programme is The Pipe Surgeon, which is based at the Tedco business support agency centre in Jarrow.
Owner Stuart Nagouse said: “The scheme has provided us with Jeff Aitken, who has proved to be a real asset to our company.
“The subsidy has helped us progress as a business.
“Jeff has done well since first joining the company, and has worked hard to prove his worth. The programme has allowed us to employ Jeff at a minimum cost to the business, taking away the burden of his salary.
“It also enables us to professionally assess the person’s attitude, motivation and aptitude to learning.
“Too many schools train kids to be brain surgeons and forget the importance of practical skills like engineering.
“We’ve let Jeff know what it’s like to work in the industry, and he has flourished and became a valuable member of the team.
“Everyone has benefited. We’ve been so impressed with his dedication that we’ve made his position permanent.”
The Pipe Surgeon has been trading for nine years and employs six people, one part-time and five full-time workers.
The company’s owner, from South Shields, has always stuck by his roots by only trading with local companies and keeping the money in the borough.
Jeff, aged 19, of Whiteleas, South Shields, said: “The scheme allows young people like myself to prove what we can do, and be given a chance against those people who might be seen to have more experience.”
Jeff, a former student of St Wilfred’s RC College in South Shields, has been working at The Pipe Surgeon for eight months.
He said: “I’ve loved every minute of my time with Stuart and the rest of the team, have learnt so much and picked up a few industry qualifications along the way.
“The work programme has given me a chance to show an employer that I’m willing to do well.
“I would definitely recommend people to go with this scheme, to stick at it and try your best.”
Coun Malcolm said: “The wage subsidy and apprenticeship programme shows the borough’s serious commitment to getting young people back to work, and gives them an opportunity to gain a high level of skills that can be used to further their employment prospects.
“South Tyneside is proud of its industrial roots and looks to build upon those achievements across varying fields, including the borough’s excellence in engineering.
“This scheme represents South Tyneside’s drive and focus for helping to lead the way in educating and training the workforces of the future.”
THIS month is the last chance for small and medium-sized local businesses to take advantage of the wage subsidy programme.
Coun Michael Clare, South Tyneside Council’s lead member for regeneration and economy, said: “The wage subsidy and apprenticeship programme is proving a great success and popular with local businesses.
“This appreciation is a welcoming sign from South Tyneside employers.
“There’s nothing better for a young person than to learn from hands-on experience.
“This also benefits the employer, as they are receiving six months’ work from an enthusiastic and passionate employee.
“The scheme gives young people a foothold into potential full-time employment, or to at least provide them with grounding on which they can develop a future career path.
“It also offers an outlet for momentum to build in the pursuit of reducing unemployment in the younger generation.”
n Businesses interested in finding out more about the wage subsidy scheme can contact Lisa Prince, economic development officer at the council, on 424 7569 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
People have until December 21 to sign up for the scheme.