A PIONEERING campaign to tackle youth unemployment in the North-East has been given funding to continue for another two years after exceeding its targets.
A year ago, The Northern Echo, Darlington Borough Council and the Darlington Partnership of public and private sector organisations, launched Foundation for Jobs with Justin Welby, The Bishop of Durham as its patron.
Yesterday, as guest editor of The Northern Echo, the next Archbishop of Canterbury heard how the campaign has smashed its targets to find jobs and apprenticeships for under-25s and inspire the workers of tomorrow.
It has been so successful plans are in place to see the initiative extended across the region.
During a tour of factories, charities and colleges Bishop Welby heard that the campaign has created 102 apprenticeships and found internships for 105 - four months earlier than planned. Furthermore, almost 1,000 pupils from schools in Darlington have taken part in events to help prepare them for the world of work and 66 young people got advice on how to start their own business.
Prime Minister David Cameron is among the leading figures to have voiced support for Foundation for Jobs, which is set to become a cornerstone of the region’s attempt to take greater control over its own destiny.
This week, the Tees Valley submitted an ambitious bid to the government for a City Deal that aims to boost jobs, investment and see Foundation for Jobs rolled out to Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland and Stockton boroughs.
"Wherever possible this campaign to improve job opportunities for our young people should become a model that is replicated all over the country," said Bishop Welby, soon to become head of the Church of England.
It comes on the day that North-East builders accused the Government of shortchanging the region on cash for vital road and rail improvements that puts jobs at risk.