AROUND 1,800 school pupils will get a free, 12-hour “masterclass” in employability.

The initiative, funded by JP Morgan, will prepare young people across the county to make choices about their future careers.

It will see new relationships formed between schools and employers, and will promote awareness of science, technology and mathematics (STEM) opportunities and apprenticeships.

The Employability Skills DASH (Dorset and South Hants) programme is the result of a partnership between the Young Chamber programme of Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Young Enterprise.

The employability masterclass will be delivered free to 25 schools across Dorset and South West Hampshire, thanks to a two-year grant from the JP Morgan Chase foundation, which focuses on young people’s employment and skills.

JP Morgan, a platinum business partner of Dorset Chamber, employs around 4,000 people at its technology and operations centre in Bournemouth.

The DASH programme will be led by Hannah Cook, area manager at Young Enterprise, who said: “Volunteers play a significant part in the delivery of the programme, bringing real world experiences into the classroom to benefit students.

“As part of Dorset Chamber, Young Chamber works with schools and has the ability to identify and contact additional volunteers from a variety of sectors across the chamber’s membership to support DASH. We are keen to attract volunteer support from as many wide and varied backgrounds, job roles and routes to success as possible so students have a full range of people in business to speak with.“Young Chamber has already played a key role in widening our pool of volunteers, as well as taking part in DASH sessions.”

Split across four sessions, the 12-hour masterclass aims to build confidence and enhance skills in communication, teamwork, planning and leadership, as well as providing an insight into business and working life. The course is followed up by workplace visits and work placements.

The programme culminates in a ‘key competencies’ event where students match their skills with those demanded by local employers.

Gary Ford, managing director of J.P. Morgan Bournemouth, said: “JP Morgan firmly believes that all members of our local communities should have a chance to take part in and benefit from the wider economy.

“As the way that people work and the types of jobs available transforming, now more than ever it’s crucial that young people, particularly those who may need more support, are able to make informed choices about their future careers. We are proud to be supporting the DASH project and excited to see the project have a positive impact on the lives of local young people.”

Dorset Chamber’s chief executive, Ian Girling, said: “We were really impressed that the DASH programme is designed to help schools meet the benchmarks set by Government, whilst giving an excellent programme for students to learn and improve on the key skills employers are looking for.”

Employee volunteers for DASH do not need any prior experience working with students and all materials are provided, with all the masterclass sessions led by a Young Enterprise expert. Volunteers are welcome to participate in one or more sessions and will work with small groups of five or six at a time.

To find out more about volunteering for DASH or other Young Chamber initiatives, email Hannah Cook or Joan Senior