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Oldham businesses boost employment prospects of jobless young people with work placement scheme

By Aimee Howarth and Matthew Lees

An Oldham teenager is boosting his employability through a hands-on placement with the borough council as it continues to combat unemployment.

Jake Wharton, 19, from Delph, is one of new five apprentices on a year-long scheme with the local authority, which already has 51 interns borough-wide.

And after his first week working in Marketing and Communications, Jake believes the practical apprenticeship will improve his chances of getting a job when he finishes.

“You come away from university with a piece of paper but have often never done a real day in the office in a working environment,” he told MM.

“You have the ethic but not the skills. We’re told by school or college that going to university is the thing to do but it is not for everyone.

“The council is well established and if someone sees that you’ve come out of a one-year placement with them it will be just as good.”

The scheme is part of the council’s fight against unemployment, which includes their Get Oldham Working campaign encouraging businesses to take on 16 to 24-year-old apprentices.

Figures obtained in an FOI request to the Department for Work and Pensions reveal the percentage of job seekers on benefits who are young people dropped in Oldham by 3.7% from May 2007 to 2013.

Across Greater Manchester, similar reductions include 3.9% in Salford and 3.2% in Rochdale, while Bury came top with a 6.7% fall and Trafford bottom with a 1.4% increase.

Jake, who previously worked on youth magazine All That through the Oldham Chronicle, was accepted onto the council’s apprenticeship scheme after a two-week trial.

His 30-hour weeks include helping with media inquiries, writing press releases and tweeting for the council, and he aims to manage his own campaign by the end of the year.

“I went to Salford University for a year after college but it wasn’t for me,” admitted Jake, who is also doing a photography course on Fridays at Oldham’s Lifelong Learning Centre.

“I prefer this style of learning in a real working environment. I hope there will be a job at the end but if not at least I will have the experience.”

The start of Jake’s placement coincided with National Apprenticeship Week, which ran from March 11-15 and aims to raise awareness of the on-the-job training schemes.

Throughout the week Oldham Council and its partners hosted events and activities to give residents information and advice about achieving the career of their choice.

The council also teamed up with the National Apprenticeship website and Key 103 to encourage people to sign up for apprenticeship vacancies.

Councillor Shoab Akhtar, Oldham Council’s Cabinet Member for Business, Skills and Town Centre said: “Oldham Council is committed to providing opportunities for our residents and supporting them to secure employment.

“This is a significant step in supporting unemployed residents into work and forms part of the Get Oldham Working campaign.”

To find out more, including the latest apprenticeship vacancies in your area, please visit www.apprenticeships.org.uk

Picture courtesy of Extra Ketchup via Flickr, with thanks

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