A CAMPAIGN to boost job opportunities for the region’s young people yesterday received an overwhelming response from across the North- East.

Scores of companies, public sector groups, schools and colleges have answered the rallying call from the Bishop of Durham to support the Foundation for Jobs, which aims to create apprenticeships and internships for the under-25s.

Engineering firms AMEC, subsea experts CTC Marine, kitchen makers Magnet and Mech-Tool Engineering are among the companies that have thrown their weight behind the 12-month campaign, being led by The Northern Echo in association with Darlington Partnership.

On Thursday, the Right Reverend Justin Welby, who is patron of the Foundation for Jobs, called on businesses to help combat rocketing levels of youth unemployment.

Firms that agree to become involved must sign a pledge that commits them to offer at least one place on an apprenticeship, or a minimum threemonth internship or work placement, or help to develop a youngster’s entrepreneurial skills.

The campaign is focusing its efforts in Darlington to help the town become a leader in creating opportunities for young people. It is hoped that other parts of the region will follow suit.

Darlington Borough Council, motor trader Sherwoods, training company Nordic Pioneer, banking group Handelsbanken and marketing and PR firm Recognition have all signed up.

Organisations including the North East Chamber of Commerce, the Entrepreneurs’ Forum and the Federation of Small Businesses have urged their members to join the campaign.

Teesside University, Darlington College and schools have also agreed to become involved.

Karen Race, Teesside University’s deputy director in the department of academic enterprise, said signing the pledge represented a commitment to the economic development of Darlington.

Several other firms, including a number of the town’s small businesses, are poised to add their signatures.

After signing up, Edmund Lovell, of County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are fully behind the Foundation for Jobs.

“It is important that we are pushing to create jobs in our local communities.

“As a foundation trust, we have around 8,000 employees, about 3,000 of them in Darlington, and they are good, solid jobs, which means families have good incomes.

“We are keen to give young people the opportunities to develop careers in health. There are posts in a wide range of skills, from health professionals to administration.”

To support the campaign, go to northernecho.co.uk/ foundationforjobs