Two organisations in the North East are helping ex-service personnel and former criminals to make a fresh start


A specialist recruitment company based in Sunderland is helping ex-service personnel go from troops to teaching assistants, after devising its own fast-track internship course.

Sunderland-based Premier Teachers, which provides teachers and support staff to schools, colleges and academies across the North East, is working with the Career Transition Partnership to pilot a new 12-week internship that has been designed to support personnel leaving the armed forces to make a successful transition into employment.

Founded by experienced teacher Mike Donnelly in 2013, the recruitment company will be launching the streamlined, fast-track course in April, giving ex-service personnel the opportunity to benefit from paid work-based learning in local schools, with a view to permanent employment.

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Mike said: “I was speaking to one of my good friends who has just come out of the army and he told me about the careers support available to ex-service personnel. A lot of people coming out of the forces don’t have any qualifications that enable them to go into other sectors and they often get pigeonholed, working in the likes of security roles.

“We have a huge demand for candidates for support staff and teaching assistants in schools. We have a proven training route for teaching assistant internships, which has been a massive success across the whole of the North East, working in partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Moving to a partnership with ex-forces personnel who are resilient and disciplined seemed a logical step and we are delighted to be chosen as the North East and Cumbrian partner with the Career Transition Partnership to raise awareness of education careers and training."

Premier Teachers is hosting a virtual group event called ‘Get into Education – Pathways into the Education Sector’ on Wednesday April 27 to raise awareness of education careers and the 12-week paid internship. The event will also cover how candidates can progress onto higher level teaching assistant (HLTA), cover supervisor and teaching roles.

Mike added: “Sunderland City Council were there to support us when the schools shut and were superb helping us access financial assistance for our recruitment app we launched in 2020."

Patrick Melia, chief executive of Sunderland City Council, said: “We’re proud to support Premier Teachers and its fantastic initiative to help veterans realise their potential. After making a huge contribution to society, veterans deserve our full support in transitioning to a new career.”


AND a North East charity that helps people with convictions get back into work is aiming to extend its reach with the help of new funding from Newcastle Building Society.

The Recruitment Junction helps its clients rediscover a sense of purpose through work and become role models who drive positive generational impact across their families, while also helping employers address their skills shortages through access to a pool of resourceful, resilient workers.

Set up 18 months ago, the Newcastle-headquartered charity has already helped more than 150 people across the North East area get into employment, while around 60 employers have signed up to be part of the project, including Adderstone Group, Amey, Suez, Greene King and Mitie.

The Recruitment Junction is now using a £3,000 Newcastle Building Society grant to organise four workshops, two of which will help candidates prepare for job applications, interviews and getting back into work.

The other workshops will be targeted at employers and are designed to help them understand how the charity operates and the benefits that they could gain for accessing a new talent pool of potential recruits.


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