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Airdrie Savings Bank throws lifeline to young jobless

Rod Ashley: young staff good for business as well as community. Picture: Submitted

Rod Ashley: young staff good for business as well as community. Picture: Submitted

  • by DOMINIC JEFF
 

AIRDRIE Savings Bank has used a £15 million local authority scheme that has helped more than 2,800 young people into employment to help it take on a raft of trainees.

The mutual, which was founded in 1835 and is governed by a board of trustees, has just taken on its 12th trainee through North Lanarkshire’s Working’s Youth Investment Programme (YIP).

The council-backed scheme is running for three years until 2015 and aims to support 5,000 unemployed people into work.

Airdrie’s chief executive, Rod Ashley, said: “We are proud to be able to put something back into our communities and help local young people into employment, and that is largely due to our relationship with North Lanarkshire’s Working.

“At a time of record unemployment among young people, our commitment is a fine example of continuity and a restatement of the bank’s original ethos, which is to ensure that the needs of our customers and local communities are our priority.”

Airdrie has been cautiously expanding – in 2011 it opened its first branch outside its Lanarkshire heartland.

The 178-year-old institution, which on average has opened one branch every 22 years, plans to expand further once it is certain the Falkirk outlet is a success.

During 2012, total lending rose by 7.6 per cent to £52.2 million – the fourth-consecutive year of growth. Customer deposits increased by 3.6 per cent to £142.5m.

Ashley said YIP – which was set up to help tackle record levels of unemployment, and in particular youth unemployment, caused by the financial crisis and subsequent sharp recession – had allowed Airdrie Savings Bank to attract “high calibre talent” that it believes will play a significant role in the future development of the company.

“I would certainly encourage other employers in the area looking to take on extra staff and grow their businesses to take advantage of this valuable initiative that not only creates employment opportunities for local young people but also offers sustainable business benefits,” he added.

Bank trainee Lorraine Ferguson, 22, is one of Airdrie’s recruits. She said: “I had been unemployed for over a year and was struggling to find meaningful work, so the referral to the YIP’s recruitment portal by my key worker at Routes to Work, presented a great opportunity.

“I started off as a cashier but am now working back-of-house, balancing branch accounts, and I am really enjoying it. I’m also being trained on the job, and the better trained I become, the more responsibility I get. So there’s certainly an incentive to do well and progress through the business.”

North Lanarkshire Council’s convener of regeneration and infrastructure, councillor David Fagan, said the local authority had learned from previous recessions that it must act to help get young people into work.

He said: “We think mistakes were made during previous recessions by not investing in training and young people, so this time round, our YIP is actively identifying young people who want to work but are having trouble finding a job and linking them with good quality workplaces such as ASB.”

 

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