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Sidcup Rotary Club aims to cut youth unemployment

PUBLISHED: 16:00 01 April 2013

A rotary initiative session in progress, led by rotarians Erik Foster (left) and David Barker (right). Pic by Derek Hope

A rotary initiative session in progress, led by rotarians Erik Foster (left) and David Barker (right). Pic by Derek Hope

Archant

The last official government figures showed no let-up in youth unemployment figures across the country.

Joanne Blunt, from the employment engagement team at Bexleyheath Jobcentre. Pic by Derek HopeJoanne Blunt, from the employment engagement team at Bexleyheath Jobcentre. Pic by Derek Hope

Almost one million people aged 25 and under are out of work and claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance nationally, figures which have been masked by an overall rise in employment.

Now, the Rotary Club of Sidcup is offering some salvation after launching its Youth Unemployment Project, in association with Bexleyheath Jobcentre, to try to buck the trend locally.

Since the first session at the end of August, 179, 18 to 24-year-olds have sought advice on CV writing and interview preparation at the job centre.

Erik Foster, 69, chairman of the club’s youth opportunities, says: “I used to run a large ship-owning group and the Rotary Club has people from all kinds of different backgrounds who have had responsibility for large numbers of employees in their working lives.

A rotary initiative session attended by Old Bexley and Sidcup MP James Brokenshire (fifth from right). Pic by Derek HopeA rotary initiative session attended by Old Bexley and Sidcup MP James Brokenshire (fifth from right). Pic by Derek Hope

“We advise them on how their CV looks from an employers’ point of view and what we’re looking for. This fresh perspective can make all the difference.

“The main aim is to get young people into work or work experience. And hopefully even those who don’t find something straight away will have improved confidence and motivation.”

When Erik approached Bexleyheath Jobcentre they were keen to come on board because it offered a fresh perspective, said employment adviser Joanne Blunt.

“It’s an excellent idea and we’ve only had positive feedback from people who have attended.

“It’s a different way of approaching things and it’s voluntary, though we advise people if we think it is the right direction to go in.

“The way the economy is at the moment, this is most welcome and it gives people who have been struggling to get into work fresh motivation.”

The club meets every Monday for a three-hour session. Meetings take place at Bexleyheath Jobcentre, which always has at least one representative present. The one stipulation is that candidates must have been out of work or education for at least 13 weeks.

Erik said: “We look at their CVs and interview techniques and try to give them a bit of polish.

“While we can’t guarantee we’ll get them a job, we can help them make a plan of action.”

The Rotary Club is considering introducing the idea to other regional bases around the country.

Joanne added: “Everyone is welcome on the scheme, no matter their qualifications and background. I think it will have longevity.”

Anyone interested in joining Sidcup Rotary Club’s Youth Unemployment Project has to go through Bexleyheath Jobcentre and be in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Call 0845 6060 234 for more information.

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