Huge cut in jobless figure

21st April 2006 at 01:00
When Peter Tavernor took over as principal of Manchester college of arts and technology nearly 10 years ago, it had just 467 teenage students.

Since 1997, its has increased this to 3,152, dramatically reducing the number of local youngsters without training or work.

Just 17 teenagers from north Manchester are without work, education or training, compared with about 400 in the late 1990s.

"We know the 17 by name," he said, praising co-operation between teachers and youth workers. "We can track them to their street and house."

Whereas Mancat used to focus on level 3 (A-level equivalent) qualifications, it now enrols about two-thirds of 16 to 19-year-olds on lower-level programmes.

Former school buildings were refurbished at a cost of pound;47 million and the college employs 10 times as many staff for 16-19 courses.

"We had to create vocationally driven programmes that integrate key skills," he said. "We can re-engage youngsters by putting together a package."

Teenagers who fail to complete the Entry to Employment scheme in 22 weeks are offered other options.

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