Apprentices at one of the UK's biggest theme parks have discovered that they've been given permanent jobs as part of a national scheme to tackle youth unemployment.
The participants spent 4 weeks behind the scenes at Alton Towers learning vital customer service skills, receiving health and safety training and getting career guidance, They also carried out work placements in Hotel Food and Beverage, Housekeeping, Front Office, Park Operations, Environmental Services, Food and Beverage and Retail.
This week, the trainees all discovered they'd got permanent positions and they say it's changed their lives.
“I’d moved to Stoke-on-Trent to escape an abusive relationship. I was living in a homeless shelter and feeling suicidal. Thanks to this opportunity, what I’ve achieved in just a matter of weeks is just unbelievable. I have been working at the hotels and the staff have been so encouraging, it’s been amazing. I’ve loved the atmosphere and although it can be challenging at times, everyone has been really supportive. The experience has given me so much confidence and my self-esteem has gone through the roof; I feel like myself again.”
22-year-old Connor Dent from Stafford, suffers with anxiety and depression and had spent over 2 years searching for employment with the job centre. He said: “I’m not very confident or have any confidence in my ability. Before coming on the course I felt like I couldn’t achieve anything and was useless to my friends and family. Coming on the course was a big deal for me.
It’s been a tough few weeks but I’ve stuck at it and I owe a lot to this course, it’s helped me come out of my social bubble and break down a lot of barriers. I am a lot more confident and I can see my problems starting to fade."
The scheme is helping to tackle the nationwide issue of youth unemployment. Earlier this month, new figures from the showed that the number of young people with jobs has dropped by 43,000 over the past year.
480,000 young people aged 16-24 were unemployed in February to April 2019.
The number who are economically inactive (not in or looking for work) decreased by 10,000.
The unemployment rate (the proportion of the economically active population who are unemployed) for 16-24 year olds was 12.2% in February to April 2019. This is down from 11.5% in the previous quarter and 11.8% a year before.
"Growing up I moved around a lot which led to me not having a typical education. I also experienced bullying and never really felt settled, I really struggled with my mental health. This opportunity has really made me feel part of a team and I really feel at home here, for once I feel settled.”
The programme at Alton Towers has reached a milestone of helping 100 young people gain employment, many of which are now employed at the UK’s biggest theme park in unique and fun roles.