Rural scheme helps fund apprenticeships for Norfolk care leavers

23 January 2018

A rural funding scheme managed by Norfolk County Council has approved its first project, which will support businesses to employ care leavers as apprentices.

Funded by the European Social Fund, Local Investment in Future Talent (LIFT) is a scheme offering funding to community-based organisations in Norfolk and north Suffolk that can deliver targeted employment and skills support in rural areas.

The final decision on applications is made by the Local Action Groups (LAGs), whose members are drawn from across local communities. The LIFT Programme Board, comprising the representatives of all the LAGs, has awarded LIFT’s first grant of £150,036 to Moore Networking Limited.

Based at Scottow Enterprise Park, Moore Networking will use the grant to set up TrAC Apprenticeships Norfolk, a pilot for an Apprenticeship Training Agency (ATA). This will support and enable rural businesses to host apprenticeships for care leavers and other vulnerable young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET).

Cllr Keith Kiddie, Chair of Norfolk County Council’s Business and Property Committee, said: “To be able to award the first LIFT grant is a significant achievement, and to award it to such a worthwhile project is particularly pleasing. This initiative will provide an excellent start in employment for some of Norfolk’s care leavers, enabling them to reach their full potential in the workplace.

“I hope that this award will encourage many more rural businesses and community organisations to come forward and apply for funding. The LIFT funding is a real boost for rural Norfolk and I’m keen to see some really outstanding projects making a difference in our rural areas.”

TrAC Apprenticeships Norfolk ATA will give specialist support to the care leavers enabling them to gain confidence and increase their qualifications in order to help them reach their potential. The businesses involved will also benefit as their staff will receive training to support and mentor the young people, which can then be used after the project finishes to support other vulnerable people within the workplace.

Michelle de Oude, the LIFT Programme Board Chair, said: “The Local Action Groups are delighted to support this project which provides excellent employability support and employment opportunities to some of the most vulnerable young people in our rural areas. This is a great start to the LIFT programme which we believe can support some really transformational rural projects in the next two years."

Sally Moore from Moore Networking said: “The LIFT Trials funding will enable us to demonstrate that care leavers and other vulnerable young people can, with the right degree of wrap-around pastoral support, complete apprenticeships in line with the wider population. It will also show that, with the individualised support and mentoring package offered through the ATA, employers are willing to offer meaningful opportunities to vulnerable young people. And what’s more, the process to get to this point has been refreshingly well documented and supported.”

The three-year LIFT scheme is split into three strands, each of which has been allocated a share of the £1 million available:

LIFT Jobs – supports projects which enable organisations to engage with individuals who face barriers to work and move them into, or closer to, employment.

LIFT Trials – supports projects which help organisations to deliver tailored support for businesses so that they are able to offer a range of work experience to individuals who have limited or no workplace experience.

LIFT Skills – supports projects which deliver training to people employed in rural businesses.

For more information about LIFT funding and to apply see www.liftprogramme.co.uk

Notes to editors

LIFT (Local investment in Future Talent) is funded by the European Social Fund. It is a three-strand grant scheme administered by Norfolk County Council, with match funding from South Norfolk District Council and Broadland District Council as delivery partners.

The programme priorities are set by the Local Action Groups (LAGs) which also make the grant decisions.

The LAGs are local grassroots community committees which already allocate grant funding under the LEADER programme, part of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) delivered via Defra.

The five LAG areas comprise:

  • The Brecks (including parts of north Suffolk)
  • The Broads
  • Wensum and Coast
  • Waveney Valley (including parts of north Suffolk)
  • West Norfolk

More information on the Local Action Groups can be found at www.norfolklags.co.uk

For political comment

Cllr Keith Kiddie (Conservative), Chair of the Business and Property Committee, on 01379 644750
Cllr Colleen Walker (Labour) on 01493 782272
Cllr John Timewell (Lib Dem) on 07717 881857

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