A SOCIAL enterprise in Swindon that gives young people work experience to improve their skills and help them find employment has taken on two new managing partners.

The Platform Project welcomed Alison Adams and Michelle Simpson from Old Town to its team after receiving grant funding from the John Lewis Partnership Community Legacy Fund.

Michelle said: “I have followed The Platform Project from its early stages and have been so impressed by the impact and work that it does.

"I have a personal desire to use my knowledge and personal experience of working with large corporates to find sustainable employment opportunities for those young people, who maybe haven’t yet had the opportunities to reach their full potential.”

Alison said: “I am looking forward to developing relationships with a variety of local businesses to provide a wide range of work experience and employment opportunities and mentoring for The Platform Project’s interns, and really tailoring those relationships to their business needs.

"It is a fantastic opportunity to make a real tangible difference to the lives of young people in Swindon while being able to access highly skilled entry level talent.”

The Platform Project runs six-month developmental internships in a “training workplace”, where young people can develop their CV work experience, skills and confidence by running a range of youth-led business projects.

The programme sees interns gain practical experience of managing projects, liaising with clients, organising events, and providing goods and services, all while developing transferable employability skills like timekeeping, self-management and goal setting.

The interns then have a vocational mentor who helps them take steps into work or self-employment - which is where the partnership managers come in.

Alison and Michelle will develop mutually-beneficial relationships with corporates, small businesses, and freelancers to provide career development opportunities that help the interns take steps into the world of work.

Email partnerships@PlatformProject.co.uk

Andy Langley, CEO at Swindon specialist IT company Ntegra, was one of the project’s first employer partners.

He said: “We wanted to get involved with The Platform Project because we have a strong CSR commitment to support our local community, but I’ve been really impressed at what the project can do.

"Our staff have developed great skills from becoming mentors, and the work experience opportunities are introducing us to entry level talent that is much more capable than we would be able to hire on the open market. We’re looking forward to full employment opportunities as our relationship progresses.”

Founder Sadie Sharp said: "Additional funding has allowed us to grow our team over the last year as the need for our service is increasing at an astronomical rate.

"With the help of Alison and Michelle, we’re now in the fortunate position of being able to rapidly scale up the connections we have with local businesses and freelancers.

"Our interns need to interact with external professionals to learn specialist skills, hear how they built their careers, and have access to work experience, shadowing and interview opportunities in local companies in order to transition into work.

“We are providing a platform for young people to transition effectively, but it will take a community effort to create enough opportunities to make a dent in the increasing level of youth unemployment.

"We currently have a success rate of 80 to 90 per cent of getting young people into work, education or self-employment, but we’d like to increase this to 100 per cent!”