The scheme, Step Ahead, is delivered with the support of four business partners: Ernst & Young, Gap, Hays and TK Maxx. With the help of the charity these organisations will offer young people high-quality work experience and skills training to help increase their employability and prepare them for the world of work.
The charity is concerned that the most vulnerable groups in society, such as care leavers or disabled teenagers, are going to be hit the hardest as youth unemployment moves towards the one million mark. With Step Ahead these young people are given access to workshops to help them develop skills in communication, working with others, writing CVs and developing good interview technique. They are also given the emotional and practical support that many of these youngsters don't have but need to enter employment.
Clare Tickell, chief executive, Action for Children, says: "This recession is affecting all young people, but the most vulnerable youngsters are suffering the most. The young people we support don't often get the chance to take up internships or work placements but Step Ahead aims to change that. The programme will raise aspirations and open up a world of possibility but also help young people gain that all-important skill that so many employers crave - experience."
Emma Mitchell, HR director at Ernst & Young, who is leading the initiative at the accountancy firm, says, "A skilled and confident future workforce is fundamental to the success of business in the UK. Action for Children's work helps ensure those in danger of being left behind are supported and have the opportunity to achieve their real potential."
The young people participating in the Step Ahead programme can work towards a nationally recognised accreditation, gaining City and Guilds VQ in Employability and Personal Development.
The charity is continuing to expand the programme and is looking for businesses to join the programme and open its doors to more vulnerable young people.