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Birmingham firms will offer jobs to 200 care leavers

Construction, technology and hospitality companies signed up to the government's Care Leaver Covenant at an event yesterday

A group of Birmingham companies involved with city regeneration projects has pledged to employ 200 care leavers.

Young care-experienced people will have the chance to go into construction, technology or hospitality after 23 new firms signed the government’s Care Leaver Covenant, which works to level the playing field for care leavers.

Government data shows that nearly 40 per cent of care leavers aged 19 t0 21 are not in education, employment or training (NEET), compared to 12 per cent for this age group overall.

Companies including Lendlease, MACE Group and Marriott Hotels added their signatures at an event in Birmingham yesterday which brought together business, young care-experienced people and representatives like children’s minister Nadhim Zahawi.

The event also saw some companies reaffirm their commitment to the Covenant, with 1,300 jobs established so far as part of the government drive to create more opportunities for care leavers.

Zahawi said: “Since we launched the Care Leaver Covenant last year we have seen a groundswell of support from businesses, charities, universities and local government all pledging to raise the bar for young people leaving the care system – who often have to overcome the kind of challenges few of us would recognise in our own lives.

“Today in Birmingham I’m pleased to see this continues, with exciting new jobs being created especially for care leavers in a variety of roles. These will give them a foot on the ladder and opportunities to help shape not only the future of their city, but ultimately their own futures.”

The Covenant, which aims to create 10,000 work opportunities for care leavers within 10 years, has been backed by 108 organisations so far including industry giants like Amazon, Rolls-Royce and TSB.

The Department for Education is offering the support of a personal adviser to all care leavers over the age of 25 in England, while ministers are calling for universities to take radical action on supporting care leavers into higher education.

Metro Bank also signed up to the scheme with the aim of easing the difficulty faced by care leavers in opening bank accounts by helping them to build a relationship with their local branch.

Leon Reid, a care-experienced professional athlete, said: “As a young person leaving care, I know how it can feel to be moved around with different families and schools. I also know how vital it is to have a chance to make something of yourself, which for me was sport.

“So for me, it’s wonderful to see companies helping provide these opportunities for care leavers through the Care Leaver Covenant to get a start in life and fulfil their potential.”

Earlier this month Chris Millward, director for fair access and participation at the Office for Students, said the government is making positive moves but that more “can and should be done” for care leavers, describing the Covenant as “a public statement of commitment” rather than action in itself.

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