Mitcham and Morden MP relaunches unpaid work experience scheme to avoid ‘scarring’ youth unemployment

Unemployed young people in Mitcham and Morden are being offered a work experience scheme by MP Siobhain McDonagh.

There are opportunities for out-of-work young people to try their hands at everything from accountancy to law, and for one candidate the chance to work in Ms McDonagh’s parliamentary office.

All but one of the voluntary work experiences is unpaid but Ms McDonagh believes the scheme can ‘break the log jam’ of frustrated young people trying to get into work but being turned down for their lack of experience.

The scheme has been running since 2011 and this year a record 100 different placement opportunities are being offered by 65 different employees.

Wimbledon Waitrose, New Malden B&Q and The Co-op in Mitcham, a company that boasts of its ethical practices, are offering placements to work in their retail branches.

Ms McDonagh said: “I remember how youth unemployment scarred our local community in the 1980s, with many families never recovering. I never want to see that happen again.

“I am proud that this scheme has been so successful in getting young people a foot in the door – and it offers something for everyone, opportunities tailored to all young people whatever their skills, talents or exam results.

“The response I have had from employers has been fantastic, and I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who has offered a placement and to the Mitcham Jobcentre who have been involved in this scheme.”

Ms McDonagh said she sympathises with school and university leavers who become dispirited looking for their first opportunity, and strongly encouraged young people from Mitcham and Morden to apply.

Although the scheme is tailored for young people aged 18-24, older people can also apply.

The scheme will begin in January 2016 and run for a minimum of eight weeks although some, such as HK Solicitors in Morden, are looking for a law graduate to complete a four-to-six-month placement to develop practical legal knowledge.

Aya Lebanese Cuisine, a Wimbledon restaurant that was recently damaged by fire, is offering three placements lasting between eight and twelve weeks for a waiter, receptionist and a sales person.

If you want to tend the hallowed tennis courts of the All England Tennis Club, they are offering a placement for a budding gardener, or pop across to Wimbledon’s boutique hotel Vin Du Cap to take up a work experience role in housekeeping.

There are also several opportunities for teaching assistants, as well as shadowing the multidisciplinary cardiothoracic team at St George’s University Hospitals.

Since the launch of the scheme four years ago around 350 participants are now in full-time employment, although not necessarily in the same field as their work experience.

As of August 2015 there were 295 unemployed young people aged 18-24 in Mitcham and Morden, 3.3% of all young people in the constituency.

Ms McDonagh will host a careers advice morning on December 10 at Merton Civic Centre, where attendees can gain advice making the most of the opportunities, as well as hearing from a former member of the scheme.

The morning runs from 11am to 1pm with a coffee break and a free lunch at the end.

For more information, please get in touch with Billy Christie on 020 8542 4835 or [email protected].
You can also drop by the office at 1 Crown Rd, Morden, SM4 5DD.

Image courtesy of Sunday Politics via YouTube, with thanks

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