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Premier League Into Work

A PIONEERING scheme to get the long-term unemployed in Liverpool back into work is proving a big success, just months after it was launched.

The Premier League Into Work project is being delivered across the city by The Everton Foundation, giving jobless people the skills and confidence to get back into work.

The Foundation runs the programme in partnership with local employers, Jobcentre Plus, the Premier League, Department for Work and Pensions and The New Football Pools.

The project, which kicked off in October last year, puts 16 people per course on a 10-week training programme at Goodison Park, culminating in a two-week work placement with a local employer.

The first batch of recruits have already tasted success, with seven of the 16 now in work and a further five waiting for start dates.

Twenty-two-year-old Anthony Phillips is one of the people to benefit from the course - the first of six to run until March 2011.

Anthony, from Belle Vale, had been unemployed for three years after dropping out of a university course.

His confidence low and with little success in finding a suitable job, Anthony was recommended for the course by a Jobcentre Plus adviser.

After completing eight weeks of training, Anthony - who had originally hoped to join the Fire Service - was offered a two-week placement at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Liverpool city centre.

Assisting the chefs and kitchen staff, he found himself excelling, and after completing the placement during the hectic run-up to Christmas, Anthony has now been taken on permanently at the hotel, currently working two days a week as he is trained up.

Crowne Plaza head chef Andy Horne said: "Anthony has really taken to the work and is a great team player, always keen to help out and take on any job put his way.

"We were all very impressed by how quickly Anthony adapted to the kitchen, and now he is hoping to train as a commis chef. Most chefs worked their way up from the bottom so there is a lot of potential for Anthony to make a good career in this industry."

Alan Harrison from the Employer Engagement Team at Jobcentre Plus Liverpool said: "Anthony started just before Christmas, and he was exactly the kind of person we were looking for. He really has been a standard-bearer for us and we're very pleased to see that he has gained a job through the programme.

"Anthony had gone through some problems and didn't know how to project himself, he was very shy. He felt that dropping out of university might have put a block on him progressing to doing something worthwhile.

"He had wanted to join the Fire Service, but the opportunity came up to go to the Crowne Plaza and he was absolutely thrilled.

"Anthony has really enjoyed working as part of a team, especially before Christmas when the kitchen was extremely busy. We are grateful to the Crowne Plaza for coming on board and I know Stephen Roberts, the general manager, was very keen on getting involved."

There is no age limit to taking part in the courses, which are also being run at Chelsea, Portsmouth and Sunderland football clubs.

The courses help to develop interviewing skills, job search techniques, CV preparation, and health and fitness.

Jobcentre Plus advisers identify suitable jobseekers who have been unemployed for six or more months and are not eligible for or participating in other contracted schemes.

Scott Black, programme co-ordinator at The Everton Foundation, said: "We held an open day with people who had applied, and were very impressed with all the people we took on - they were all keen and eager to get back into work.

"When people come in they are low on confidence and we help to build this and get them to a level where they can hopefully hit the ground running in the work place.

"It is very rewarding and great for us to see people having success and gaining employment. The course is not about getting people any kind of job, we strive to get them into a career or workplace that they are interested in.

"We are also committed to tracking participants' progress, keeping in touch and seeing if they need any more help."

Premier League Into Work is funded by the DWP and The New Football Pools, for the Premier League. Around 350 people are expected to take part in the £580,000 pilot initiative across the country.

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