Leeds ,

One hundred percent success rate for youth contract programme

Over a thousand young people are back in education, training or employment thanks to a successful programme run by Leeds City Council as part of its agenda to become a NEET-free city.

To celebrate the success of the Devolved Youth Contract, which was set up to support young people in making a successful transition into education, employment or training, Leeds Civic Hall opened its doors to young people, partners and staff, as well as local employers last week.

Since this successful programme was set up in 2012, over 1100 young people have been supported into education, employment or training, which is 100% of the project targets. 633 of these young people have remained in education, training or employment and sustained that progression for six months or more. Those currently in education, employment or training will continue to receive support for a full 6 months.

The event at Leeds Civic Hall was organised to celebrate the hard work and commitment of those involved in the programme, as well as providing young people with the opportunity to meet local employers and discuss future career prospects.

Employers in Leeds have contributed over 5,000 hours to the programme, supporting mock interviews, group assessments, work experience and mentoring, giving young people the opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge of the world of work, which has been shown to make a real difference to their employability and prospects for work.

The programme was set up in September 2012, offering opportunities to 16-17 year olds who were previously not in education, employment or training (NEET) - some of the city’s most vulnerable young people, and has assisted 1,102 young people in making positive and sustainable changes to their future.

The programme comes to an end in March 2016, and is now focusing on maximising the number of young people making sustained progress.

Councillor Mohammed Rafique, executive member for employment, enterprise and opportunity said:

“It was wonderful to be part of last week’s event and to celebrate the achievements of young people across Leeds.

“The Devolved Youth Contract has proved hugely successful in providing young people with new learning opportunities, employability skills and new-found confidence in their abilities moving forward into education, employment or training. To achieve a 100% success rate is a fantastic achievement and represents a real commitment to helping the young people of Leeds reach their potential.

“Some individuals have already had success in securing future employment through using these newly-acquired skills to complete applications and attend interviews, which is credit to the positive changes this programme has made. All young people involved in the programme should be incredibly proud of what they have accomplished and feel confident in whatever they choose to pursue in the future.

“We must also congratulate and thank the people involved in running the programme, for their commitment to manage, inspire and encourage throughout the past few years. The success being celebrated is measured by the efforts of everybody involved, and I look forward to seeing more inspiring services for young people available in the future.”

The Devolved Youth Contract Programme was launched as part of the Leeds City Region (LCR) City Deal as part of a collaborative partnership across Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield, with young people being recruited from a range of agencies. The project has been recognised as setting the bar for devolved projects – achieving great success through a collaborative partnership, and furthering the agenda for devolution of funds.

Financed by The Education Funding Agency (EFA), Leeds City Council was allocated up to £2.4m from the £5.6m allocation to LCR. This funding has been used to provide support specific to the needs of individuals and their ambitions, with interventions set up to improve confidence and develop employability skills, culminating in progression into education, employment or training.

The programme is jointly delivered by the council’s employment and skills team and children’s services in Leeds, and the key worker support, a major feature of the programme, is provided by Aspire-Igen. The Leeds Education Business Partnership, part of Employment Leeds, provides the employability skills training. This mutual partnership has been essential for delivering the exciting results of this programme.