Scheme launched to help Barking and Dagenham’s youngsters find work

Sean Grant delivers his speech. Picture: Jimmy Lee

Sean Grant delivers his speech. Picture: Jimmy Lee - Credit: Archant

A scheme aiming to help young adults get work experience with local firms has been launched by Barking and Dagenham Council in association with the Barking Enterprise Centre (BEC).

The scheme was launched at the BEC in an effort to get businesses based in the borough to sign up to be officially recognised as an official ‘Working for Young People’ employer.

Cllr Cameron Geddes said that getting smaller businesses to invest in training young people from the borough is a big challenge for the council.

Whereas previously big businesses based in Barking and Dagenham would routinely take on a lot of young people, the small and medium enterprises of today are not so used to offering jobs to school leavers, he said.

Sean Grant, who has been doing an apprenticeship at the BEC, said that getting professional experience means he is in a much better position to get a job.

He said: “I first found out about my apprenticeship while I was at secondary school. I remember at the time there was a lot of the academic students going on to college and maybe even university.

“However at the time I knew this wasn’t for me as I preferred a more practical, hands on approach.”

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He added: “When I first started the business atmosphere was very new to me.”

However he now feels confident in a working environment - and says he has made his fair share of tea.

Karen West-Whylie, CEO at the BEC, said employers could gain a lot from hiring young people.

“You never get a young person saying, ‘in my old job,” she said.

Growing up in the digital age means they are often better with technology than their elders, she added.

Young people are cheaper to hire than older, more experienced people, she said.

However because they are a blank slate businesses can train them up into employees that are well suited to their profession.

“And you never know, one day they could be your boss,” she added.

The next stage is to get businesses to sign up the initiative and encourage young people in the borough to get involved.