Former CBI chief to launch Norfolk work experience bursary

School leavers in Mid Norfolk could benefit from a new high profile bursary scheme aimed at helping them gain vital work experience in the world of work.

Digby Jones, former head of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), will be launching the new scheme which aims to provide winners 'work experience money can't buy' with a placement in the industry of their choice, help and advice from a high profile local mentor, and financial support.

The bursary initiative is part of the Norfolk Way, a foundation set up three years ago by George Freeman, now MP for Mid Norfolk.

The aim is to help a handful of schools leavers between 16 and 18 years old who are not going on to academic studies get work experience in a business, organisation or sector they are interested in but would not otherwise be able to access.

Placements will range from between three and six months and the financial support would cover living expenses, travel to work costs and special costs such as equipment and clothing

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Norfolk businessman Henry Cator is sponsoring this year's inaugural award, while the mentor will be Ali Clabburn, founder of Attleborough based Liftshare and former winner of Young Entrepreneur of the Year award. In future years the aim would be to attract sponsorship from other local businesses.

Precise funding will depend on how sponsorship can be found but the idea would be to provide financial support for living expenses, travel to work, and any special costs (eg: for equipment or clothes) the experience may require.

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Mr Freeman said the aim is to encourage entrepreneurial thinking and help young people gain the sort of practical work skills employers look for.

'Norfolk can be a tough place for youngsters seeking opportunities to get on,' Mr Freeman said. 'If we're serious about rebalancing the economy with a rennaissance of British enterprise and more sustainable local economies, we need to be helping school leavers who are not academic and creating opportunities for them.

'We don't need to wait for a Government strategy to do this. We all have a responsibility to the next generation.'

The launch event will take place tomorrow at the World Horse Welfare centre at Snetterton.

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