Iain Duncan Smith says CatZero project works
THE Government's Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has praised the CatZero project which is helping local young people into work.
As reported, CatZero is a unique training scheme that includes sailing on a 72ft ocean racing yacht and recently saw 14 people aged between 16 and 24 successfully graduate with all members getting jobs or going on to further education.
The programme was a controversial project when it was started up four years ago after NHS Hull spent £500,000 on a yacht to teach skills out at sea.
The national press and Prime Minister David Cameron, who at the time was leader of the opposition party, both criticised the move, but after overwhelming success the project was brought to both Immingham and Grimsby in the last year.
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Mr Duncan Smith spoke to the team behind CatZero.
He said: "I love coming to projects like this, people have great ideas and we need to replicate them.
"If they are getting people ready for work, however it's being done, even by buying a yacht, then let a thousand flowers bloom.
"Sometimes the national press says something is a bad idea and everybody agrees, but I would invite David Cameron to come up here."
He also said he would like to see how CatZero could fit into the Government's Work Programme.
"It is difficult, but there are jobs out there," he said. "Sometimes the problem lies with young people who aren't capable of taking on those jobs, so programmes like this are incredibly important.
"Some kids have crashed out of the system, they're simply not at the stage where they are able to go to a job interview or even work at a computer.
"These are not big skills, they are life skills, and if someone is lacking in confidence to read or cannot write, nobody will take them on. These things need to be resolved early on."
During his visit, Mr Duncan Smith, the former leader of the Conservative Party, met those who have found work or gone onto further education after completing the course.
Plastering student Phil Robbins, 17, of Guildford Street, Grimsby, said: "I spoke to Mr Duncan Smith about how far I had come in my life since I moved from Hull to Grimsby and went on the course.
"I wasn't nervous or worried about speaking to him because I got my confidence back due to being on CatZero.
"I was representing all the people from Grimsby who were on the course.
"CatZero has made a huge difference to me.
"I am now studying plastering at the Grimsby Institute and I really like it.
"Meeting Mr Duncan Smith was a new experience and it was good to talk to someone as important as him."