How the training schemes of the 1980s helped young people to get a foot on the career ladder

Following a rapid rise in unemployment towards the end of the 1970s the next decade saw an extensive drive to get people back to work - particularly for school leavers.

Tuesday, 25th February 2020, 5:00 pm

The Youth Opportunity Scheme was the first step towards training up young people and that was followed by the well-know Youth Training Scheme, or YTS, as it was more widely known.

In Blackpool, a group of enterprising local youngsters turned their talents to serving the community to beat the dole queue blues, under the wing of the Youth Opportunity Scheme.

The jobless teenagers built a car park for a local church and developed an extension for a day care centre.

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Youngsters from Fleetwood's Youth Opportunities Scheme working on the decorating of St Paul's Church Hall. From left: Geoff Beaumont (supervisor), Stephen Brown, Peter Graham, Carl Heggie, Colin Bevan and Mark Whelan
Youngsters from Fleetwood's Youth Opportunities Scheme working on the decorating of St Paul's Church Hall. From left: Geoff Beaumont (supervisor), Stephen Brown, Peter Graham, Carl Heggie, Colin Bevan and Mark Whelan

Another successful scheme, bespoke to Blackpool, was a YTS scheme based at Dutton Forshaw.

The car company devised a comprehensive programme to train young people for a variety of jobs in the motor mechanic industry.

Under the scheme, young people were trained for 12 months, including three months off the job and nine months working with a sponsoring garage. Trainees worked under the supervision of experienced instructors and a staggered intake meant all trainees received personal attention. They received an allowance of £25 a week.

In another scheme, the New Training Initiative, young people were given 12 months of intensive training leading to a certificate which would be recognised by employers.

Tracy Mayhew and Collette Blundell at work in Cleveleys as part of the New Training Initiative, watched by Stefan Hinchliffe

In 1982, more than 1,000 young people joined the scheme on the Fylde coast. It was the first of its kind in the North West.

Elsewhere, industries were encouraged to offer training to young people and centres were set up to provide training opportunities for a wide variety of trades, including engineering and office skills.

Alan Duggan and Robert Singleton learn joinery
Paul Websdell and Ian Robinson at the engineering department of Fylde and North West Lancs Training Centre
Mike Bamforth discussing the replacing of a distributor during an under-the bonnet class at Dutton Forshaw
The busy reception area at the Bispham headoffice of the Methodist Community Project. It was a church sponsored initiative approved by the Youth Opportunities Project
Youth Training Officer Barbara Tolliday (right) with Joanne Lynch, December 1982
Busy in the building department are Philip Green, Craig Bollington, Kevin Cox, Mark Burke and Jonathan Binney. December 1982