Page last updated at 12:24 GMT, Thursday, 5 March 2009

Project to help youth 'drop outs'

Teenagers
Youngsters will be given experience opportunities

A multi-million pound scheme to help young people aged between 11 and 19 get on the jobs ladder is to be rolled out across south and west Wales.

The assembly government's 49m initiative aims to support 30,000 young people and stop them dropping out of education and employment.

It follows a smaller project announced for the south Wales valleys

But opposition Conservatives said the number of young people not in education employment or training was rising.

The scheme called Reach The Heights will target youngsters aged 11 - 19 across west Wales and the south Wales valleys to try to prevent them becoming Neets (not in education, employment or training).

It was announced by deputy first minister Ieuan Wyn Jones, AM and education minister Jane Hutt, AM.

Reach The Heights is a major investment in the future of our young people
Ieuan Wyn Jones

Some 27m will come from the European Social Fund with the rest from the Welsh Assembly Government and other sponsors.

The project is designed to use workshops and work-related experience to give young people key skills for future education and employment.

"Reach The Heights is a major investment in the future of our young people," said Ieuan Wyn Jones, Deputy First Minister.

"This innovative programme will provide support and encouragement to enable young people to acquire practical skills and develop career opportunities."

The Welsh Conservatives said they welcomed any additional help to give children a good start in life, but said the number of Neets had been increasing in recent years.

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesman said the Conservative statement does not take into account population increases, but the Conservatives said these were official figures.

More help

"It speaks volumes for the assembly government's lack of priorities that ministers did little to improve the Neets problem in Wales before the economic downturn," said Conservative education spokesman Paul Davies, AM.

Welsh Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Jenny Randerson AM said more needed to be done for youngsters aged between 18 and 24.

Joint sponsors of the new scheme include the Arts Council, Children in Wales, Funky Dragon, Save the Children, Community Music Wales, Techniquest, Snap Cymru and Urdd Gobaith Cymru.

Last week the assembly government announced a 7m scheme for more than 7,000 children in the south Wales valleys aged between 11 and 13 who were at risk of leaving school without qualifications.

SEE ALSO
Record numbers stay in education
19 Jun 08 |  Education
Drop-out teens to get extra help
05 Nov 07 |  Education

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