WEST Yorkshire's financial sector employers, such as the Halifax and Lloyds Bank, appear to have found a solution to a problem that has been worrying them - how to attract more young recruits from ethnic minorities.
Calderdale College Corporation in partnership with the Halifax designed a four-module programme for unemployed 16 to 24-year-old members of the Pakistani community seeking work in the sector.
This was delivered in a community centre in Halifax's West Central area, one of the most deprived parts of West Yorkshire.
The programme, which ran from August to the end of September last year, diagnosed the students' strengths and weaknesses in terms of confidence, presentation skills and competencies and sought to address these through a programme of active learning.
Three college lecturers took part, offering guidance on caring for customers, information technology skills, job-seeking, building portfolios and tutorial support.
The compact with employers, particularly the Halifax, ensured that successful students were guaranteed interviews and had access to career opportunities.
The programme's success in widening social inclusion is evidenced by the fact that 14 out of 20 students were accepted into jobs in 19978. Because of that, numbers enrolled in the 199899 programme have doubled.
There has also been positive reaction from the employers involved and it is proposed that a rolling programme of courses will be offered in future.
Mick Banks, who managed the programme, said it had been a great success - young people had found jobs and employers had found the kind of employees they were seeking.