The Rio Ferdinand Foundation has joined forces with Oldham Enterprise Trust, the Oldham Opportunity Area, local partners, and business leaders in a new initiative to help young people from Oldham bolster their career opportunities through enterprise skills and entrepreneurship.

Rio Ferdinand Foundation and Oldham Enterprise Trust (OET) have teamed up with the Youth Enterprise Network Oldham (YENO) in this unique offer for the young people of the borough to build their skills, knowledge and access to local job opportunities, whilst unleashing their entrepreneurial talents. The initiative will also support participants to gain crucial career know how and guidance from those local business leaders and entrepreneurs who have already achieved success across Oldham and Greater Manchester.

Gary Stannett, CEO of the Rio Ferdinand Foundation said: It is widely acknowledged that the economic impact of Covid19 has disproportionately hit young people in terms of employment, wellbeing, career prospects and social mobility. Young people currently in education will need a job when they leave and with long-term unemployment increasing, many marginalised young people will be left at the back of the queue for jobs as the economy opens up. This partnership demonstrates a commitment by all partners to support young people in Oldham to access real career opportunities and rebuild the economy of the town. We at the Rio Ferdinand Foundation are proud to be extending our work in Oldham through this exciting programme.

Dave Benstead, Chair of Oldham Enterprise Trust, said: Oldham Enterprise Trust (OET) is pleased to partner with the Rio Ferdinand Foundation, Oldham Opportunity Area and YENO to promote enterprise and employability with Oldham’s youth. For the last 7 years we have championed enterprise awarding more than £1 million in start-up funding to local entrepreneurs who have created over 360 jobs. This support is needed more than ever given the present economic climate. Developing an enterprising spirit amongst Oldham’s young people, whether as enterprising employees or as entrepreneurs with their own businesses, will not only help themselves but the economy of the town.

Sonia Ayaz, Chair of Youth Enterprise Network Oldham, said; As Chair of YENO, I can say that we are proud to be in partnership with the Rio Ferdinand Foundation, Oldham Opportunity Area and Oldham Enterprise Trust to promote enterprise to the next generation of Oldham entrepreneurs. Our YENO members have benefitted from support and funding from OET and want to inspire, connect and educate other young people to follow in our footsteps and take control of their economic destiny. This project allows us the opportunity to share our stories and show that, in the words of Barack Obama “Yes we can!”

Minister Michelle Donelan, responsible for Opportunity Areas, said: I welcome this new initiative in Oldham to help plug the skills gap and inspire the next generation so they can fulfil their ambitions and our economy can thrive. It builds on our work to level up outcomes for young people, by investing more than £1.5 billion in high quality tutoring, providing free, online digital and numeracy courses through The Skills Toolkit to boost employability skills, and through the support of the National Careers Service and our £2 billion Kickstart Scheme which are creating new opportunities.

James Kempton, Independent Chair of Oldham Opportunity Area, said: I really welcome the Rio Ferdinand Foundation getting behind Oldham’s young people, giving them the opportunity to become the successful business leaders of the future.  Oldham has seen more challenges than most areas during the COVID period, including a rise in youth unemployment but Oldham is a town with a proud history of innovation and entrepreneurship. Through the support of our partnership with RFF, OET AND YENO, I am confident we will see a new generation of ambitious young people realising their creative potential and becoming future employers in this town and beyond.

Jim McMahon OBE, Member of Parliament for Oldham West & Royton, said: Children and young people in Oldham have been hit hard and deep by the pandemic, so I’m really grateful to see that the Rio Ferdinand Foundation is coming up with innovative ways to improve the skills, knowledge and prospects of our young people. Oldham‘s young people have got bags of potential and I’m glad to see they’ve got RFF’s backing to help unleash that.

The programme will offer weekly sessions throughout this year with opportunities for local businesses, education practitioners and members of the community to get involved. If you want to support young people to tackle inequality and drive social change in your area visit the website Support our work — Rio Ferdinand Foundation

or contact the Programme Manager, Victoria Lowe, on 0161 743 3779.

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