THE Bishop of Durham last night issued a rallying call to North-East businesses to help create a working future for young people as he backed a campaign to boost the job prospects of the under-25s.

The Right Reverend Justin Welby became patron of the Foundation for Jobs and called for support from employers in the region.

He called on business leaders, union officials and educationalists who attended the launch at Darlington’s Lingfield Point to get involved.

The Northern Echo initiative aims to give young people practical help in finding work.

The campaign will establish formal links between schools and employers, provide internships, increase the number of apprentices, encourage young entrepreneurs and showcase young job-seekers.

Bishop Justin said: “This initiative recognises there is a crisis of youth unemployment, of economic recession, but also says we recognise there is a need to plan in order to flourish in the future.”

Bishop Justin became the first to sign the Foundation for Jobs pledge, saying he would take on an intern in his office and look at areas where more youngsters could be taken on across the diocese.

He added: “I am passionate about being patron and this campaign has the potential to transform the opportunities of thousands of young people.”

• The campaign launch came on the day schools in the region dominated the list of the country’s most improved secondary schools.