Thanks to a successful initiative called NE1 Works, which provides work experience that really works, 130 regional companies (81 of which are based within the NE1 postcode) have been working with young people to give them a better insight into the workplace over the last 18 months.

So far 51 of the young people who were described as NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) have been helped into employment and 99 have benefited from work placements.

These figures are the result of  a collaboration between Newcastle United Foundation and NE1 Ltd, the Business Improvement District company, who together launched the NE1 Works campaign in May 2016 with funding from Newcastle City Council’s Newcastle Fund.

The NE1 Works network of companies is now beginning to expand as more and more local employers are pledging their support by providing work experience, mock interviews, CV writing support and industry ‘insight’ days.

Newcastle United Foundation and NE1 Ltd have joined forces to make the initiative into a real success story. The Foundation, which harnesses the local passion for football to encourage learning and to make a real difference to the lives of young people and families, has strong community links, while NE1, because of its excellent links with the local business community, has engaged with its many business contacts to organise work experience opportunities.

Delighted with the progress to date, Dawn Barber, Business Network Manager at the Foundation, said:  “The main purpose is to provide unemployed young people in Newcastle with positive interactions with industry. This involves meeting real employers in sectors ranging from construction to hospitality and providing insights into careers that young people might not ordinarily consider.”

For example, at Miller & Carter, the young people learned how to cook a steak with the chef, they found out about working in a front of house role and talked to the bar manager about what his role involved.

A visit to Marks and Spencer helped them find out about the unseen jobs behind retailing such as health and safety, fashion merchandising and store maintenance as well as replenishing food shelves and customer service.

One initiative that has proved very popular was a rail insight day to find out about careers in rail with support from LNER (formerly Virgin Trains East Coast).  Seven young people, all unemployed, had the chance to go along to hear from rail staff about their roles.  They visited all areas of the station including the train announcers’ area, ticket office, first class lounge and went onboard the trains.  There were roles available and several young people who attended are now looking at going back to complete work experience.

Louise Rutherford, Regional Customer Experience Manager at LNER, said:  “Helping young people get into the rail industry and playing our part in the Newcastle community is really important to us. Therefore, we’ve been delighted to work with the Newcastle United Foundation and we all really enjoyed meeting the group. I hope to see some of them in one of our uniforms in the years to come.”

Dawn continued:  “Experiences of the kind we can offer really open doors to opportunities many young people wouldn’t normally have.  We are delighted that 51 have now found employment.

“The response that we have had from employers has been fantastic, businesses have been keen to share their experiences and have welcomed our young people into their premises.”

Louise Liddle, NE1’s business network manager says that the demand to become part of the NE1 Works programme is really impressive to see.  She said:

“We embarked on the project as a model of best practice  and are delighted at the level of support Newcastle businesses are giving to young people, allowing them to succeed, and in turn, helping their business to develop – it’s amazing.

“As an initiative, NE1 Works has taken off.  We are here to make it as easy as possible for employers to get involved.  Working with young people like this makes a great contribution to continuing professional development, staff training, team building and talent spotting, but many employers just want to be able to give something back.

“When young people see others of their own age in jobs, this leads them to think ‘if they can do it, so can I’, which is why we are so keen to continue with this programme in our aim to ensure the best possible commercial environment for the city’s businesses to thrive.”

By the end of March 2019, it is anticipated that over 150 young people will have been supported on the programme.

If employers want to get involved they can get in touch with Dawn.barber@nufc.co.uk