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The Kent Employment Programme has put young people in work by offering employers grants of £2,000 and advice on other funding.
Aimed at young people who have been out of work or education for a while, the scheme has secured apprenticeships in every Kent district since beginning in March 2012.
Its 500th apprentice is Jasmine Willaims, 19, who has begun working at Bumble Beez children’s soft play centre in Ramsgate, after being out of work for three months.
She said: “It is absolutely brilliant. I love working with the children and the staff at Bumble Beez have made me so welcome.
“I was out of work for three months before starting here and they were the worst three months of my life.
“I am now studying towards my customer service qualification and would recommend trying out an apprenticeship to anyone.”
Bumble Beez owner Sarah Cannon has taken on five apprentices through the Kent Employment Programme after being initially sceptical.
She said: “I was a bit worried with how it would work.
“I wasn’t sure at first if we could choose our own apprentices or if they were just sent through. I was pleased when we were sent the CVs and we then invited candidates in.
“We gave them a trial session which has worked really well as young people are not always confident in an interview situation, particularly if they have been out of work for a while too.
“I believe that education and training is vital to improving your skills.
“The apprentices are all learning on the job with a training provider coming in every two to three weeks to set work and assess the young people.
“They are working through their work books and motivating each other.
“Having the apprentices here has really benefitted the other staff too, as conversations about training and health and safety have raised awareness and keep everyone on their toes.”
“Every young person should get the chance to follow their ambitions and develop their skills. Apprenticeships provide an important opportunity for both.”
Since its launch Kent Employment Programme has hired 29 apprentices in Ashford, 36 in Canterbury, 23 in Dartford, 56 in Dover, 23 in Gravesham, 52 in Maidstone, 11 in Sevenoaks, 47 in Shepway, 47 in Swale, 113 in Thaney, 21 in Tonbridge and Malling and 10 in Tunbridge Wells.
Medway has 28, with four young people from out of the county being placed with businesses in Kent.
Taking on an apprentice is not as difficult as many bosses think.
The KM Group is highlighting the benefits of hiring one with its Kick Start Kent campaign, aiming to get 50 companies to take on a young person.
For details, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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