More than 2,000 young people have now signed up to a £17 million project designed to develop their skills, increase opportunities and help them into work.

The DurhamWorks programme is aiming to improve the prospects of County Durham’s 16 to 24-year-olds who are not in education, employment or training.

And just six months into the more than two year project it is well on course to put almost 6,000 people on the path to employment by summer 2018.

Cllr Ossie Johnson, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for children and young people’s services said: “In only a few months DurhamWorks has successfully signed up over 2,000 County Durham 16 to 24-year-olds  who were not in employment, education, or training.

“Unfortunately due to issues including the late introduction of increased requirements by the Department of Work and Pensions, and a delay in the payment of funding from the Government, we have had to request that our original target for sign ups in 2016 be reduced.

“Yet the overall target of involving 5,830 people in the DurhamWorks programme by July 2018 remains unchanged and, having now introduced a system to gather and verify eligibility, we expect the numbers of participants to increase significantly in the coming weeks.

“We are working with employers and Business Durham to make sure there are jobs and apprenticeships for people to progress into, and we remain confident that the project will be a success.”

Already more than 300 small firms are working with the project to help create new job opportunities for the county’s young people, with businesses saying they appreciate the support they are receiving  to help them recruit the most appropriate people.

And more businesses are being encouraged to find out about working with the project, to help find the young staff they need.

The council’s Cabinet will receive an update on the programme on Wednesday January 18.

For more information about DurhamWorks, and how to get involved, visit www.durham.gov.uk/durhamworks

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