Since December 2013, The New Tyne West Development Company (NTWDC) – a partnership comprising Newcastle City Council and developers Barratt Homes and Keepmoat – has funded an Employment Advisor from Newcastle Futures to be based at the Scotswood Centre on Armstrong Road, for one day a week.
To date, this dedicated coordinator has helped 200 unemployed people from the Scotswood, Benwell and Elswick area into work.
Of these, 28 were supported by an additional flexible fund, also made available by NTWDC. It was established to pay for local residents to improve their skills via training and help to remove the barriers that prevent them from getting into work.
One of these, John Hewitt, 22, from Scotswood, is now working as an apprentice with Keepmoat, building new homes at The Rise – a £265 million regeneration scheme that will see 1,800 new homes delivered over the next 15 years.
John first registered with Newcastle Futures – a partnership between Newcastle City Council and Jobcentre Plus – in 2013. This partnership offers a free and confidential service to help unemployed residents in the Newcastle area to find and access job and training opportunities. He applied for an apprenticeship but was unfortunately unsuccessful.
Undeterred, John successfully re-applied a year later and started his apprenticeship in September 2014. He said: “Lisa Mordue at Newcastle Futures helped me with my CV and interview skills and I accessed funding from NTWDC for my Construction Skills Certification Scheme test and Construction Industry Training Board qualification. She was also really encouraging and supportive.”
“I was disappointed the first time round but tried again because I was 100% certain that construction was what I wanted to do. I also felt more mature a year on and with a baby on the way, I wanted to work hard at the apprenticeship so I could provide for my family.”
Just over a year later, John is looking forward to his second Christmas with baby daughter Kayleigh.
He added: “I’ve learned such a lot since I started here – both through being on site and in college. I am proud to be working, supporting myself and also to be able to buy things my daughter needs.”
Youth Employment Advisor at Newcastle Futures, Lisa Mordue, added: “We worked with John to help secure his apprenticeship and were delighted when he was successful. We supported him with his employment start forms and as well as the funding provided for his qualifications, NTWDC supplied John with all of the work gear he needed to be on site. He is just one example of how we have been able to help people to take the first steps into a new career.”
In addition to providing backing for Lisa’s work, NTWDC is funding a Young Person Engagement Worker to help identify people aged 16 to 23 who would be interested in – and could be supported towards – apprenticeships linked to the regeneration programme.
Lee McGray, Development Director with NTWDC, said: “The Rise is not only providing modern, energy efficient homes in the west of Newcastle. It is helping to revive a community which has faced many challenges over the past decade. Part of this is creating training and work opportunities for local people like John who provides a perfect example of what can be achieved.”
Cllr. Ged Bell, Newcastle City Council’s Cabinet Member for Investment and Development said: “Apprenticeships play a significant role in strengthening our economy, providing future generations with the valuable skills and practical on the job experience.
“Supporting the employment prospects of young people is a priority for the council, ensuring they can fulfil their potential and make Newcastle a working city. I’m delighted John has learned so much in his apprenticeship, on one of the most iconic housing developments in the region.”