A UNIQUE project set up to build relationships between schools in Sunderland and businesses from across the region has had a huge impact on young people and their employability.

The results of a research study carried out during Work Discovery Week 2014 have just been revealed and show that the event is “having a positive impact on the young people, the schools and the businesses involved.”

And it confirmed that 80 per cent of the young people who were involved in activities during the week-long event experienced “a positive increase in their knowledge” about the career opportunities available to them after school.

Work Discovery Week – which is being held for the third time this year fromJune 29 to July 3 – was set up by Sunderland’s Economic Leadership Board Business Schools Task Group to improve the employability of young people in the city.

More than 40 businesses from across the North East have been involved every year, taking part in activities ranging from a careers fair, workshops, business challenges and visits.

The research – carried out during the 2014 event – showed that those attending gained a great deal from the week including learning “more about options and pathways”, “about apprenticeships”, “more about college and universities”, “more employability skills” and “more about businesses.”

Schools were also positive in their support for the initiative, with 100 per cent saying they would attend again this year.

“Students were able to engage with a wide variety of businesses in a very efficient and effective way,” said one teacher, while another said, “Work Discovery Week has certainly helped both students and staff to understand the range of opportunities available.”

Businesses which took part were equally positive about being involved, saying the event not only helped raise their profiles and awareness of what they did but also gave them “a better understanding of the sectors and careers that young people are interested in.”

Already a number of businesses have been signed up to be involved in this year’s event, with major sponsors including Sunderland AFC, Sunderland University, Sunderland City Council, Sunderland College, Nissan, the Bridges and Arriva.

Also on board are TRW, Calsonic Kansei, Accenture, Northern Print Solutions and Liebherr.

“We know that Work Discovery Week has been a huge success but we can now see that officially through this piece of research,” said Gary Hutchinson, co-chair of the Business Schools Task Group.

“The evaluation shows that this event is having a real impact on young people in Sunderland which is putting them in a strong position when making their career choices in the future.”

Work Discovery Week is now part of the wider Work Discovery Sunderland programme, which includes a number of guest speaker and sector days.

A number of sponsorship and general participation opportunities are available for WDW 2015. Anyone interested in finding out more should emailstephanie.rose@sunderland.gov.uk