Skip to content

Business & Economy

North East businesses partner with FIRST Breakthrough to bridge the skills gap

Over 100 businesses in the North East have partnered with FIRST Breakthrough to help young people kick start their careers with a range of training and job opportunities.

Many young people often leave the region in search of better job prospects, meaning that local businesses can miss out on home-grown talent.

Local entrepreneur, Charlotte Windebanks, is determined to address this issue with a new initiative FIRST Breakthrough, which matches businesses with young people looking to create a career in the North East.

FIRST Breakthrough is a youth-led work placement service, connecting businesses to education providers and bridging the gap between young people with skills and employers with experience and training.

FIRST is also committed to overturning the myth that hiring young people is higher risk. They argue that young people have a range of desirable skills particularly in digital literacy and are more likely to have highly developed interpersonal and communicative skills.

There are a number of skills gaps in the North East that need to be addressed and the region also has one of the lowest employment rates in the UK.

Charlotte commented: “The most powerful way to turn this on its head is to provide young people entering the work place with the best possible skill sets, arm them with the business contacts they need to progress, and create as many opportunities as possible for them to succeed.

“If the region can retain its talent, the future will be brighter. That’s exactly what we’re doing at FIRST Breakthrough.”

A FIRST Breakthrough membership programme is available to businesses in the region and so far, 116 have signed up to help place young people into work.

After some analysis of the first 12 months of the programme, the following observations were made:

–      In 2018 / 2019 FIRST Breakthrough delivered 256 learners into work placements, with 116 local businesses (Startups and SMEs)
–      74% of business would employ the learner they had on placement
–      76% of businesses rated their experiences with the learner(s) as 8-10/10
–      88% of students reported that they have a clearer idea of what they want to do when they finish education
–      83% of student gained industry specific knowledge
–      85% of students are more likely to stay in the North East and look for work here