NEARLY half of the unemployed young people who took part in local MP Hazel Blears’ work experience scheme have now got permanent jobs.

Of the 42 local young people who completed short periods of work experience under the Kids without Connections scheme, 16 have now secured full-time jobs or apprenticeships with their work experience employer or another business or organisation.

Salford and Eccles MP Ms Blears launched the scheme last year amid concerns for talented young people who did not have the confidence or personal and professional connections needed to get experience with local employers.

Employers including Salford Royal Hospital, Salford City Stadium and Fujitsu were among those which offered work experience to 18-24-year-olds in the spring after being matched with them at a speed-dating style event.

Ms Blears has just visited two of the employers which gave permanent jobs to the young people they had taken on under Kids without Connections to see how they were getting on.

She visited minor repairs social enterprise Helping Hands on Swinton Hall Road, Swinton, and engineering and technical recruitment firm Morson International on Centenary Way, Eccles.

Wesley Davies, 23, has been employed by Helping Hands, which has just agreed a new two-year contract with Salford City Council.

Wesley is a qualified electrician, but told Ms Blears that he had not had a permanent job for two years.

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“I’m really enjoying being back in work,” he said.

“I was employed as an electrician for four years but was then laid off due to the economic downturn.

“I’ve had temporary jobs since then but they never lasted more than a month so at least I know I have something more stable now.”

Helping Hands chief executive, Joan Fielder, said: “Kids without Connections has been a fantastic opportunity to build up the skills of young people in Salford and to help them back into work.”

Mrs Fielder also took on Lee Johnson, an apprentice, through the scheme, and arranged work placements for three other young people with Salford Disability Forum, of which she is a board member.

They have also now been taken on as apprentices.

Morson, meanwhile, has employed two of the four people it took on work experience.

Helen Elms and Lizzy Trousdale, both 22, are working in human resources in its technical and engineering recruitment division.

Helen said: “Until this I didn’t really have experience of the workplace.

“But it gave me the idea that this was what I wanted to do and I have really landed on my feet.”

Becki Ross, HR manager at Morson, said: “The Kids without Connections programme has given us access to young people we may never have met through the usual recruitment channels.

“It has been great to give them the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and develop their confidence in order to help them find a suitable role.”

Ms Blears said: “I would like to thank Helping Hands and Morson, for not only taking on young people on work experience, but also for employing some of them.

“That just goes to show that there are some really talented young people here in Salford who have so much to offer if they are just given the opportunity,

“Many of them lack the connections needed to get that all important foot in the door.

“It was fantastic to visit some of the young people who have seized this opportunity with their new employers, and it is clear that they are already proving themselves to be valued colleagues.”