Economy Minister Diane Dodds MLA met with young people and staff from The Prince’s Trust to hear about the youth charity’s response to COVID-19.
Throughout the pandemic, young people have been among those hit hardest by the impact of ongoing economic uncertainty and rising unemployment. The Prince’s Trust has continued to provide young people across Northern Ireland with employability and education support at this difficult time, helping them to build the confidence and skills they need to move into work, education and training.
One way The Trust does this is in partnership with employers, including Lidl Northern Ireland, who work with the charity to provide training and mentoring schemes that support unemployed young people into jobs.
During her visit to the Connswater Lidl store in Belfast, Minister Dodds heard from young people who have taken part in The Prince’s Trust Get into Retail programme and now work in Lidl stores.
Get into Retail is a four-week course that offers participants the chance to gain on the job training in store and receive feedback and guidance from a dedicated buddy. The programme is part funded by the European Social Fund programme 2012-2020 and the Department for the Economy.
Economy Minister Diane Dodds said:
“My Department has made great efforts to ensure that the range of support available in relation to welfare and mental health, across our providers, has been stepped up in response to COVID-19 so that relevant help and support is available in this challenging period. Partnership approaches are so important to enabling successful outcomes and it is clear to see that The Trust and Lidl has worked hard to develop a very successful partnership.
“The work of organisations like The Prince’s Trust is essential in helping us to ensure young people are able to obtain the skills and qualifications needed to progress in their chosen career path be this higher or further education, training or employment.”
Conor Boyle, Regional Director for Lidl Northern Ireland, said:
“Our Get into Retail programme is designed to provide an avenue of opportunity for young people in Northern Ireland to develop solid skills and experience in the dynamic retail environment. Not only do candidates gain on-the-job experience, but they are also supported and mentored by our experienced leadership team.
“In a year like no other, these training schemes are vital to ensure our young people can build a career and excel in their ambitions, and through this programme, Lidl Northern Ireland are pleased to support the future of so many young people in the region.”
Mark Dougan is the Director of The Prince’s Trust in Northern Ireland, he said:
“Thousands of young people in Northern Ireland have had their ambitions and career plans disrupted by the global pandemic, with young people at least twice as likely to be unemployed than any age group.
“It is crucial that we continue to work in partnership with employers, such as Lidl Northern Ireland, and the Northern Ireland Executive to provide young people with the skills and training opportunities they need to become work-ready and confident about their future.”