Unemployed youngsters handed job opportunity of a lifetime thanks to Hazel Blears’ work experience scheme

By Suraj Radia

A work experience scheme by Salford Labour MP Hazel Blears has provided 38 unemployed youths with a placement with firms and organisations across the city.

Kids Without Connections gave 18-24-year-olds a chance to attend a ‘speed dating’ style event with interested companies at the University of Salford’s MediaCity campus.

Ms Blears expressed her delight at the event’s turnout and felt the businesses would provide a way for Salford’s youth to get onto the job ladder and build their careers.

She said: “We have some really talented young people here in Salford, but many of them do not have the connections or the confidence to get that crucial foot in the door.

“Some businesses were so impressed with the young people they met that they ended up taking on more than they had planned.

“That just goes to show how much they have to offer and it was so nice to see so many smiling faces.”

Salford and Eccles MP Ms Blears launched Kids Without Connections last year after receiving feedback from youths unable to find work due to lack of experience.

With around 25% of the 3,950 people claiming benefits in Salford aged between 18-24, the youngsters were referred to the scheme by Job Centre Plus – who hope to find placements for another 40.

During the event, participants met with representatives of 27 businesses and organisations including Morson International, Salford Royal, Salford City Stadium and Fujitsu.

David Whitehead, from Fujitsu’s Manchester office, attended the event with the intention of offering just one placement but ended up taking on another in Tom Curry, 23, as well.

Mr Whitehead said: “I had made my choice but then Tom came up and I thought that was me ten years ago and that swayed me to offer a second placement.

“Now it is down to them. If they do well there’s a possibility of jobs at the end of it. Kids Without Connections is a fantastic scheme for the local community.”

Mr Curry, of Blackfriars Road, Salford, began his placement this week and said he was treating the job like a trial after being told there could be a permanent role at the end of the placement.

“I used to work at a cinema but I’ve been out of work for nearly six months now so I’m really happy to get this placement,” he said.

“Getting an interview can be the hardest part, especially for people like me who have never been to university – but Kids Without Connections gave us access to all these employers.”

Picture courtesy of Rathfelder, via Wiki Commons with thanks

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