Youth training scheme aids waste industry recruitment

A training project for London's young unemployed is targeting the construction and waste management industries, giving disadvantaged youths valuable work experience in one of the economy's growing sectors.

Founded by Andrew Pears in 2010, the Kotuku Environmental Labourer Project (KELP) sources young unemployed Londoners from Jobcentre Plus and equips them with basic health and safety and environmental skills and qualifications.

The ‘environmental labourers’ undertake a two-week environmental ‘boot camp’, which includes visiting a materials recovery facility; learning about waste management and achieving a certificate of environmental awareness; and carrying out practical tasks and achieving a CSCS operative level green card.

Once trained up, the youngsters are matched with selected employers in full-time employment on a fixed-term 26 week contract. Each employee must be paid the national minimum wage and receives regular visits and support from Kotuku during this employment period.

At the end of the 26 weeks, successful employees will receive permanent employment while the others will receive a dossier detailing training, attendance, work experience and references to show future employers.

The project receives grant support from the Big Lottery Fund and to date two pilots were run in June and October 2012. Twelve young unemployed were selected for training. Nine passed and achieved their qualifications and eight were placed in full-time employment.

A new batch of KELP trainees was recruited last month for the two-week course and the plan is to run five courses this year and a further five in 2014. Pears said that the project had funding for two and a half years.

“I knew that I had to define a really manageable, realisable and clear objective so we’ve said that our output is going to be 30 people per year, recruited, interviewed, trained and placed in work. They will be supported for up to six months after that,” he said.

“The enthusiasm and commitment of our trainees, and the opportunities provided by our supporters mean that we are currently ahead of target.”

The KELP project will be featured in LAWR magazine in the coming months.

Nick Warburton

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