'Champion' executives enlisted

The Government is to engage top executives as New Deal "champions" to promote the proposals intended to help the young unemployed.

Sir Peter Davis, head of the New Deal task force, has written to business leaders with details of the scheme. The Government is keen to ensure that that they are involved with the New Deal.

The "champions" will be chairmen, chief executives and directors of British companies. They will act on a regional basis working within an agreed national strategy .

"They will participate in the design and delivery of a local marketing strategy, drawing on the assistance of the Confederation of British Industry, local chambers of commerce and Business in the Community," according to a paper outlining the project.

"Together with employment service and task-force staff, they will personally promote the programme through speeches, articles and appearances. They may also host events to engage major employers and their supply chainscontractors in support of the New Deal. Regional champions will regularly brief the task force and ministers on their views about New Deal progress in their area." The "champions" will be expected to do the job for one year, working approximately one day a month.

Business leaders will also be recruited as New Deal assessment panellists. Working with the employment service and government regional offices they will assess proposals from local consortia and agree district plans.

A second category of business leader, high-flyers and middle-ranking executives is being sought to act as regional advisers, project specialists and national account managers.

The regional advisers will be seconded to the programme full-time for six months. They will need to have excellent communication and inter-personal skills and be capable of operating under pressure with minimal supervision.

There will be a number of short-term assignments for project specialists: including marketing, systems development, information technology, partnership development and training. Most of the posts will be in London or Sheffield.

Andrew Smith, the employment minister, said: "I am pleased and excited at the prospect of getting reliable private-sector enterprise to help ensure the success of the New Deal."

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