Huntingdonshire project lays foundations for careers

THE future looks bright for a group of young unemployed people in Huntingdonshire who have gained work experience, qualifications and job opportunities from a six-week green skills programme funded by Urban & Civic.

The project, which was run by community charity Groundwork in conjunction with Huntingdonshire Regional College and Job Centre Plus, involved 11 unemployed young men in the construction of a community tree nursery at Alconbury Weald.

The group spent two full days of a four week period outside in adverse weather conditions constructing raised flower beds for the tree nursery as well as building storage facilities for an adjacent porter cabin at the site.

The rest of the group’s time was dedicated to earning qualifications, through the help of the Regional College, that will help make them more attractive to employers such as the CSCS Health and Safety Card and a City & Guilds qualification in Employability.

40 Applicants applied for the project through Job Centre plus and only 11 were chosen to take part in the project that finished last friday.

Tim Leathes, project manager for Urban & Civic, said that he hoped this would be the first of many similar projects to come as the company continues to develop the Alconbury Weald site.

Mr Leathes said: “We’ve got a lot of land here so the scope for future projects is endless.

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“We hope this pilot scheme will be just the start of opening up opportunities within the development of Alconbury Weald and the Enterprise Campus.”

It is hoped the project will be a stepping stone for many of the group that took part to get their foot on the first rung of the job ladder.

The project was delivered by Groundwork – a charity which has been running green community projects in Hertfordshire, Luton and Befordshire for 27 years.

This programme is the first the charity has undertaken in Huntingdonshire and chairman Neville Reyner was very positive about the opportunity that had been made available to the young people involved.

Mr Reyner said: “Young people are going for jobs now and there are hundreds of people turning up for one vacancy.

“Hopefully this group will now be able to get their foot in the door.”

Those who took part in the scheme agreed that it had improved their chances of a job and some already had jobs and interviews lined up.

20-year-old Ryan Holliday of Devonshire Close, Sawtry was one of the sucessful applicants for the project and was selected through the job centre after being unemployed for five months.

Mr Holliday, who attended sixth form at Sawtry Community College but decided it wasn’t for him, said he thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the programme.

Mr Holliday said: “Being able to get out here on site is so much better than sitting at home doing nothing.

“We will end up with qualifications to add to our CVs and the guys from Groundwork look after us well.”

Ryan now has the prospect of a job after a property maintenance contractor who took part in putting the candidates through mock interviews was impressed by him.

Groundwork will continue to

Liam Harris, 22, lives with his partner Kirsty and seven-month-old son Alflie in Loves Way, St Neots and said the new qualifications and experience could make a big difference to his prospects.

Mr Harris said: “Before this I had been at the job centre for eight months.

“The practical skills from the project will really help me getting a job in construction because I don’t have much experience.”