£25,000 boost to extend youth employment scheme

A scheme which has helped businesses create 158 job opportunities for young people in the Borders will continue until the end of September.

Scottish Borders Council has confirmed this week that it is committing £25,000 to extend the Youth Employment Scotland (YES) initiative.

Launched in September, 2013 for a period of 18 months with funding of £250,000 from the Scottish Government and the European Social Fund, the project has targeted young people aged 16-24 who have been unemployed for up to six months.

Employers are offered up to half the salary costs of a minimum 25-hour week for a six-month period.

The funding has been delivered locally by SBC with the contracts arranged by the charitable company Barnardo’s Works East.

According to the council, out of 158 contracts, 95 young people completed their six-month stints, with 86 of them being offered a continuation of their contracts.

More than 25% of those who did not complete six months moved onto other employment.

“The programme has been successful in its main objective of matching businesses with eligible young people to fill vacancies and a significant number of companies have recruited a young person for the first time,” said Councillor Stuart Bell, SBC’s executive member for economic development.

“Many, particularly small businesses, said they could only have done so with the help of the YES scheme.

“In addition to the number of opportunites, what has been really encouraging has been the quality and the range of posts created.

“There is certainly a demand from businesses across the region for a continuation of the scheme and I’m pleased the council has been able to commit £25,000 to cover an interim period while bids for further external funding are made.

“This will enable at least eight places to be created up until September with the focus of those businesses offering apprenticeship opportunities.

“If our external funding bids are successful, the scheme could potentially run until December 2016 or March 2017 and create more than 100 new placements.”