BELFAST City Council has announced a major new apprentice scheme with 10 places available, together with details of 16 paid work experience opportunities for university students.
The announcement was made by Lord Mayor Alderman Gavin Robinson and chair of Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, Deirdre Hargey.
They were joined by Education and Learning Minister Stephen Farry MLA, is particularly significant given last week`s news that unemployment has reached its highest level in 15 years.
It was also revealed that since the launch of its Investment Programme (2012-2015) last February, the council has delivered 156 permanent and 63 temporary job opportunities and over 200 placements.
And the Lord Mayor, Councillor Hargey and Mr Farry jointly called on all employers in the city – public and private – to look at imaginative ways in which they can play their part to help young people and long term unemployed back into work during these difficult times of economic recession.
The Lord Mayor said: “I believe it is vital that we, as a council, play our part in equipping our young people so they can make the most out of the future ahead.
” As a city, a skilled and talented workforce will be our greatest asset, yet opportunities are often scarce. I hope that today`s announcement is the first step in creating a successful future for our young people and all of us.
“Our unprecedented rates freeze means these posts and the education and training opportunities have been created at no extra cost to our ratepayers.
“Leadership across the council has focused our resolve, despite a constrained economy in the face of recession, and we are committed to playing our part to widen opportunity across the city.
“At the same time, we continue to improve and maintain our services and have committed to delivering our £150 million investment programme with the next two years, providing physical investment and support for the economy, people, communities and neighbourhoods. “
Councillor Hargey said that the political parties agreed unanimously a year ago that the council must support the city’s economy and the development and maintenance of job opportunities, with particular emphasis on young people and the long term unemployed, during these difficult times.
“We are focusing on delivering opportunities for all, particularly young people who have been affected by the downturn and need help to get their foot on the ladder.
“We want to give as many people as possible the chance to develop the skills needed to apply for and secure jobs, regardless of background or where they live.
“We set ourselves a target of delivering 110 job opportunities in year one of the investment programme. To date we have delivered 156 permanent and 63 temporary job opportunities and over 200 placements.
“Today, we are launching a drive to recruit 10 apprentices for periods of between three and four years, including seven craft posts – for fleet technicians, electricians and painters – and three gardeners. Closing date for applications is Thursday 28 March.
“We are also providing 16 paid one-year placement opportunities for university students studying in fields such as event management, building control, communications and human resources.
“In addition, 40 long-term unemployed people are currently undergoing a pre-employment support programme, and they will have the opportunity to compete for five Business Support Clerk positions at the end of the process.
“On top of that, we are providing ongoing placement opportunities through the Steps to Work Programme, Programme-led apprenticeships, the Youth Employment Scheme and the Graduate Acceleration Programme. And in February, we also launched the £300,000 Belfast Bursary Fund to help 16-25 year olds into employment, education and training – applications are now open on a first-come, first-served basis.”
Welcoming the Council`s work in developing job and training opportunities, Dr Farry said: “I applaud the achievements of Belfast City Council which through their Investment Programme is developing skills and improving access to employment.
“The economy is the key Executive priority and people are one of the main drivers. Employers have an important role to play by creating jobs and opportunities and facilitating work placements. Belfast City Council has today demonstrated how they are contributing using innovation and creative thinking.
“The Council has been working closely in partnership with my Department to provide these work placement and job opportunities in this difficult economic climate. I urge other employers across the city to follow suit and to work in partnership with my Department to achieve similar outcomes.”
Full details on all job and training opportunities provided by Belfast City Council can be found at www.belfastcity.gov.uk/jobs
For more information on the council`s Investment Programme 2012-2015, go to www.belfastcity.gov.uk/investment