LEADING businesses from across the North East have pledged their support to a charity set up to tackle youth unemployment.
The Employability Trust was launched by industry man Bill Marley who, following a career spanning 40 years, wanted to give something back to the community which has served him so well.
After coming up with the idea of setting up a learning factory where young people who are Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) can gain practical experience and vocational work to equip them with the skills needed to get a foot on the career ladder, Bill began the search to find suitable premises to get his idea off the ground.
And after coming across a run down unit at Palmer Road on the South West Industrial Estate, Bill called on the support of some of his industry colleagues to help him turn his ambitious plans into reality.
Bill said: “When we got the keys for the unit it was in an unbelievable state. We literally had to strip everything back and start from scratch. Luckily I had connections at businesses across the region and was able to call on their support to help get the unit in some kind of workable condition. I’ve been overwhelmed by the willingness of businesses to help us and now there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
Donations have come in from all corners of the North East.
The Employability Trust was also able to get financial support from Business Durham while Peterlee companies Caterpillar and BHK donated materials and Be Smart Solutions a cadcam package.
The multi-purpose unit which is home to The Employability Trust includes a work shop, storage and loading areas, meeting rooms, IT facilities and a training centre. Extensive visual improvements have also been carried out externally to make the building more welcoming to visitors.
Bill, who has worked for a number of regional businesses including Black and Decker, Neyr UK and MFI, added: “The support we’ve had so far has been fantastic and in August this year we became a registered charity. We’ve relied on businesses helping because they see what a great job we’re doing. Working with us fulfils their corporate social responsibility whilst getting young people who want to work through the front door.”
The Employability Trust works in conjunction with a number of partners to help unemployed young people from across East Durham. Since launching, the charity has secured work with Metro Mail, Wilsonart and Seaward and has taken on over 60 people on paid contracts of between four and 12 weeks, 17 of whom have gone on to secure careers with these and other companies in the area. In addition, 80 per cent of the young people who come through the doors on work experience placements have gone on to secure full-time work.
The Employability Trust board is headed up by Chairman Alan Miller and members Meryl Dodd of Actif Ltd, Jacqui Chapman of JC Events, Debbie Charlton from MetroMail, Sally Waterston of Waterstons IT and Keith Gill of The Tanfield Group.