A CHARITY, which supports young jobseekers by offering vital workplace skills, is celebrating the award of three new business contracts.

The Employability Trust in Peterlee has secured deals with nearby fruit and veg supplier Holcrofts; and fine dining catering equipment specialist Goodfellow and Goodfellow, as well as soft drinks manufacturer and retailer Contract Bottling Ltd (CBL) in Sunderland.

For the last couple of months the trust, which was set up by businessman Bill Marley to help young people who are Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEETs) find work with local employers, has been contracted by CBL to pack batches of mixed fruit cordial which are destined for Saudi Arabia.

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After impressing managing director Martin Thornton, the company has confirmed it has extended the contract on a more permanent basis.

Mr Thornton said: "I've been so pleased with the work ethic of The Employability Trust team that extending the contract with them was an easy decision to make. Bill's organisation came highly recommended to me and I have to say they've exceeded my expectations. Subcontracting this element of work makes sense to us so I've asked the trust to continue working with us for the foreseeable future."

Mr Marley said: "The last few months have been a real turning point for the trust and after being awarded a contract with Seaward Electronic, which has resulted in four young people being taken on paid placements and one permanent apprentice, we've now secured even more business. Contracts like these are so important to the trust as it enables our young people to work in a real life environment, either here at the trust or at the companies themselves.”

During the past 12 months, The Employability Trust gave 24 young people work experience placements and of those, 21 have gone on to find secure employment with businesses in the local area, representing a massive 87.5 per cent success rate.

The Employability Trust also directly employed 64 people ages 16 and over on short term contracts while a third of its work force is apprentices who have been brought out of the benefits system and given the opportunity to earn while they learn.

The trust works in conjunction with a number of partners to help unemployed young people from across East Durham and since launching, it has secured work with Metro Mail, Loricas, Wilsonart, Isabelina and DTA.