Hunt for apprentices to build King’s Cross of the future

A NEW training programme will give unemployed and unqualified youngsters from Islington and Camden the chance to help build the new King’s Cross.

West Euston Partnership, a community organisation, is recruiting 18 to 24-year-olds who live primarily within 1km of King’s Cross Station for its pre-apprentice programme.

The Get In! project offers those without any GCSEs at A* to C grades the chance to improve literacy, numeracy and IT skills. During an eight week period trainees will also be taught job searching, CV building and interview skills before going on site visits and taster days with firms in the rail and construction industries.

Job Centre Plus is helping to recruit 40 people for the course, during which practical, on-site work experience opportunities will be offered by a range of construction companies working on the King’s Cross redevelopment, as well as by Network Rail, who are funding the pilot.

Tony Louki, coordinator of West Euston Partnership, which was set up in 1992 and is now a charity, said: “People who may not have had the chance before, we get them skilled up. Without skills it’s impossible to get interviews. Hopefully most if not all of them will stick it out and then have a much better chance of getting a job.

“There is an old history of railway employment in the area and there will be jobs in that sector. It’s a unique project, something quite special. When these kids start achieving we hope to take it further across the area and across different sectors.”

Onoya Lutula, 21, who lives in Camden Road, Camden Town, is one of the pre-apprentices who will begin the programme in February. After leaving school with no real qualifications and spending six months in prison at the age of 16, Onoya spent time doing voluntary work for homeless shelters and charity shops but has been unemployed for over a year. He said: “Being unemployed feels so hopeless. It’s a confidence blow. Signing on I feel like I’m scrounging off the taxpayer and it makes me feel like I’m not worth anything.

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“My CV is not very strong. There are millions of people looking for jobs and I haven’t really got a chance. At school I felt I didn’t get a lot of support from my teachers or my family, I was really alone. I got arrested on the day of my GCSE English paper and missed the exam, so I’ve never taken it.”

He is looking forward to starting as a pre-apprentice. “I see it as a door half open, I’m going to try and grab this with both hands and turn my life around.”

Get In! has caught the eye of the National Apprenticeship Service, who will supply specialist support to the project along with Camden Connexions, Camden Working Men’s College and a handful of other local youth organisations.