FOURTEEN disengaged young people are a step closer to finding work after completing an employment programme – with a further eight enrolled to take part.

The young men and women – aged 18 to 24 from East Durham – took part in the Talent Match initiative managed by East Durham Business Service (EDBS), based in Peterlee.

The course has been staggered into three parts, with eight people completing the first leg, and six more successfully finishing the second.

A further eight young people are signed up to complete the programme next month, which means a total of 22 potential employees from the area are a step closer to finding work.

So far, participants – who had previously been out of work or training for over 12 months –  have walked away with qualifications in subjects such as business administration, customer service, retail, and health and safety.

The scheme, part of the Big Lottery Fund, is tailored to each individual’s needs focusing on restoring confidence and self-belief, helping their development and ensuring they get closer to being employable by engaging them with a range of activities.

EDBS’s Simon Naisbett, who is managing the programme which is celebrating its second year, said: “After running this programme last year and seeing the results, it is evident how important it is to these young people who have been so hard to engage with for such a long time.

“The number of disengaged and unemployed young men and women is a big problem in the region and Talent Match helps to tackle that by using activities which will interest and motivate them.

“It is so rewarding for us, and for them, to see them all walking away with a much-deserved qualification which will hopefully give them the skills, the confidence, and the self-worth, to be employable in the future.

“This course has given these young people the foundations of becoming good employees, without which they may well have given up hope of ever finding a job.”

Mathew Thompson, 22, from Horden, who completed Talent Match, said: “It has been awesome coming here and it is a shame it has to end.

“If I had the chance to do this course again I would. We all got the individual support we needed which is really important to help with the different needs that people have.”