A YOUTH service giving youngsters a stepping stone into employment is closing its doors.

Connexions, in Christchurch Road, Bournemouth, provides help and advice for teenagers, runs its own courses and helps young people enrol at local colleges.

The service has been run by Ansbury, for Bournemouth Borough Council, since 2008 but will close at the end of March, when the contract finishes, with some staff being transferred to the council’s Integrated Youth Service.

Martyn Jewell, Ansbury chief executive, said Connexions, which employs 15 staff, had reduced the number of young people in Bournemouth not in education, employment or training from 8.6 per cent in 2008 to 4.8 per cent last year.

He added: “We are obviously very disappointed.”

Mum-of-three Sandra Vallier is also devastated Connexions will be closing.

Her son Daniel, 18, did a two-year Connexions course to gain qualifications he left school without, which enabled him to get onto a business studies course, and her daughter Hannah, 15, has just enrolled on a childcare course through the service.

Sandra, 40, has just taken her youngest son, Sam, 12, out of school because of bullying and was hoping to get him on a Connexions course when he turned 13.

She said: “I’ve relied on them a lot over the last few years, they’ve been a major help to me and a lot of parents.

“Teenagers are our future, they’re going to be the ones that take over from us.

“If our country is going to carry on succeeding, they’re the ones that need to get qualifications to keep the country running.”

A Bournemouth Borough Council spokeswoman said careers information, advice and guidance would be provided in-house from April, focusing on those with learning difficulties and disabilities and those not in education, employment or training.

The statutory duty to deliver careers advice for 14 to 16-year-old passes to secondary schools from September and there is a new requirement from 2015 for young people to stay in education or training until they are 18.

Cllr Barry Goldbart, cabinet member for education and children’s services, said the new service would provide a “much broader range of support”, from one point of contact.

It is estimated the changes could save the council around £1,752,000 over the next four years.