A West Norfolk charity is offering young people out of work, education or training a first step on the road to a job in the motor industry.
As part of a countywide scheme administered by the College of West Anglia, Open Road West Norfolk has opportunities for people aged 16 to 24 not in education, employment or training (so-called NEETs) to undertake pre-apprenticeship training leading to a qualification in motor vehicle maintenance.
Anna Foster, project co-ordinator at the College, said there was funding from Norfolk County Council for 150 pre-apprenticeship places across the county, with a number of openings still available up to September this year.
The pre-apprenticeship scheme is part of a wider project managed by the College that has already seen 400 apprentices placed with small to medium enterprises in the county.
Terry Smith, a trustee at Open Road, which has a fully equipped workshop and training rooms at Rollesby Road, King’s Lynn, said the two-day-a-week, 10-week course would give youngsters lacking opportunities in training or employment a renewed sense of hope about their futures.
In the third quarter of 2013, government figures show there were 1.1 million NEETs in the UK, 15 per cent of people in the 16-24 age group.
“We have to change the way society treats these people – there can’t be a one-size fits all approach – and we have fabulous facilities here and a real opportunity to provide the beginnings of a better future,” said Mr Smith.
“This is very much a professional place to work, and we find that once we get them involved in something that motivates them, they quickly change the way they think.”
After 10 weeks, trainees can earn a level one award in motor vehicle maintenance from the Institute of the Motor Industry, with the possibility of further training to a higher level, hopefully leading to an apprenticeship with a local garage, parts supplier, agricultural machinery engineer or other related motor industries.
“After our training, employers would have a real asset on their hands if they were to provide an apprenticeship, and that’s the ultimate aim of the scheme,” added Mr Smith.
Ms Foster said potential applicants had to live in Norfolk and fit the NEET criteria.
“The idea is to support young people not quite ready for an apprenticeship, but who are almost there,” she added.
“The aim is to get them work-ready, give them some basic skills, interview techniques, some valuable work experience and a reference to take to an employer.
“It’s about being able to get up in the morning, get to work on time and proving that they are ready to enter the workplace – so life skills as well as learning about a specific type of business.”
Open Road was established in 2009 and received support from the West Norfolk partnership, which includes West Norfolk Borough Council and other organisations such as the police and the health service working in the area.
People looking to join the scheme should contact Anna Foster on 01553 815518 or email firstname.lastname@example.org