Arsenal in the Community have celebrated the inaugural graduation of 25 students on the Arsenal Employability Programme, the Club’s bespoke employment and education scheme.

Over a period of 12 weeks, the graduates, who were not in education, employment or training (NEETs) before they started the course, completed a range of tasks designed to help them develop their own employability skills.

With the help of the UK’s leading education company, Pearson, and City and Islington College, all the youngsters had the opportunity to gain experience across various skill sets including interview techniques and time management while being able to apply for real jobs.  The training was delivered at both Emirates Stadium and in community centres on local estates to the students.

At the graduation ceremony, attended by Arsenal representatives and key stakeholders, the youngsters picked up a certificated qualification, equivalent to a B grade at GCSE, before they move into jobs with Emirates Stadium Catering and Hospitality provider, Delaware North Companies and Olympic Park Catering provider, Sodexo.

Ivan Gazidis, CEO Arsenal Football Club, said: “I would like to congratulate all of the programme’s participants on their achievement, of which they should all be very proud. An economic climate where employment opportunities are becoming increasingly precious makes the role of our community department, with the support of our community partners, more important than ever in terms of delivering programmes that help young people find a way into the workplace.”

Rod Bristow, UK Pearson President, commented: “The Arsenal Employability Programme is a bespoke education and training programme which was designed and delivered to engage young people who may have struggled to find work in the past. It helps give them the fundamental skills they need to find and secure sustainable employment.”

Employment Minister Chris Grayling, also added his support to the programme: "It's great to hear about a scheme which is helping to prepare young people for the world of work. I'm delighted so many of these young people have now been able to secure work, and hope many more young people will benefit in future. It's important we give them the vital skills which they need to get a job. Congratulations to Arsenal, Pearson and City and Islington College for creating this programme."

It is hoped that the success of the Arsenal Employability Scheme will lead to other Premier League and Football League clubs introducing similar initiatives.

- The scheme is funded by Skills Funding Agency through City and Islington College.
- All graduates have been offered work with Emirates Stadium Catering and Hospitality Provider (DNC) or Olympic Park Catering provider Sodexo, with some due to be helping at the Olympic Games. .
- The number of NEETs recently hit a record high of 1.16m, almost one in five 16- to 24-year-olds.
- The Premier League has previously announced its growing interest in getting more football clubs involved in the provision of education in their local communities.
- Tackling the rising number of young people not in Employment, Education or Training is a high priority for the Government who have announced a package of measures to tackle the problem.

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15 May 2012