A PILOT scheme that provides internships for young people in county council care has seen a new batch of graduates.
The scheme provides paid work placements with the county council, but also allows interns to access relevant qualifications.
One graduate, Michaela Blaylock, 21, now works full time for Hampshire Trading Standards and spent her internship promoting the county’s Buy With Confidence scheme.
As an intern she was encouraged to take NVQs to add to her National Diploma in public services.
She said: "I achieved the best grades possible under the scheme and it really boosted my confidence and my belief in myself. Getting the job has also been a real boost. It is great to be working, to be earning my own money.
"I would definitely encourage other young people in care to get involved with the Internship Plus scheme.
"The scheme has really helped me build my confidence,” she added. "I really enjoyed working as part of a team, meeting different people and telling them about the service. I got to see what working life was like and what would be expected of me."
The scheme currently has 15 young people taking part, and Hampshire County Council has agreed to make the successful pilot permanent.
Cllr Thornber said it was important to give young people in care extra support.
According to Hampshire County Council, 33 per cent of 19-year-olds in local authority care are not in education, employment, or training, compared to 15 per cent of the general population.
"As corporate parents we were particularly that we help those people who need that extra support to succeed in the workplace," he said.
"Young care leavers face particular challenges that their peers do not. I am very pleased to celebrate with these young people, the successful completion of their internship.
"As one of the county’s largest employers I think it is important we take a lead with initiatives like this which help young people take their first steps into employment."