EMPLOYERS have been praised for embracing the chance to reduce youth unemployment which has blighted the North- East.

Foundation for Jobs is on course to hit its targets in creating jobs for young people and inspiring the workforce of tomorrow after enjoying support from across the board.

Since the campaign was launched in January, it has so far created more than 70 apprenticeship places for young people in Darlington, against a target of 100 by March next year.

More than 90 young people have also taken part in work experience or internships, designed to boost their chances of finding work.

In addition, at least 600 schoolage people are expected to have taken part in activities designed to build their links with industry by mid-November.

And more than 60 young people have taken part in activity designed to develop their entrepreneurial skills.

Foundation for Jobs, launched in January, is a joint initiative involving Darlington Borough Council, The Northern Echo and the Darlington Partnership, of public and private sector organisations.

Alasdair MacConachie, chairman of Darlington Partnership, said: “Since we launched Foundation for Jobs in January, I have been impressed by the determination of businesses and organisations in the Darlington area and beyond to support what we are doing.

“This support has been much more than vocal, as these figures show. Firms have rolled their sleeves up and got stuck in to the job of creating a future for our young people.

“I expect the confidence they have shown to become contagious.

“As other organisations hear about the good experiences their peers have enjoyed in supporting Foundation for Jobs, I am sure many more will come forward to participate.”

The Foundation for Jobs campaign was launched against a rising tide of youth unemployment in Darlington and the wider North-East.

Research has shown that young people who have contact with industry while still at school are up to five times less likely to be unemployed at the aged of 25.

With this in mind, schools are to take part in activities involving and supported by Durham Tees Valley Airport, apprentices from Darchem Engineering at Stillington, near Darlington, and the Institution of Civil Engineers North-East during the next two months.

Any firm or organisation interested in becoming involved in Foundation for Jobs can contact co-ordinator Owen McAteer on 01325-388367 or at owen.mcateer @darlington.gov.uk