MAJOR businesses and organisations are spearheading a new initiative to help local young people get into the workplace, which will be launched at the International Festival for Business 2016 (IFB2016).HSBC and DLA Piper are among the companies taking part in the programme, offering 16-24 year-olds who have faced extreme difficulty with finding or staying in work the chance to join them and get a taste of a career in business. The programme includes employers offering ‘First Day’ work placements and a flagship event during IFB with up to 100 young people meeting and being mentored by business leaders. First Day was set-up by the charity United Way, the philanthropy partner of IFB2016, and is led by its local partner, the United Way in Liverpool, Liverpool Charity & Voluntary Services (LCVS). The aim of the programme is to provide 500 young people with access to business leaders, a greater understanding of the road to success in finding a job and career and how this relates to their own situation and future options. Following consultation with major players in business and youth organisations, the founders discovered that two common themes held back many unemployed young people, namely: fear of the workplace and lack of relatable role models. Most of the young people are from families who struggled to stay or find jobs, which helped to create a fear about going into a work environment. First Day aims to break down these barriers by working in partnership with businesses in the Liverpool City Region and the rest of country. LCVS Chief Executive Tony Okotie said: “First Day has been established to help tackle the barriers we identified through working with local youth charities that young people face when considering employment and professional careers. “Tackling these issues requires a stepped approach, through which we and our partner youth organisations will be guiding young people. This will ensure that they are ready and prepared to fully experience each new opportunity offered. “Three key attributes that employers said they wanted in employees were enthusiasm, commitment and the ability to hold a conversation. The young people from the Liverpool City Region have these skills and First Day and IFB2016 will be the link that bonds them with businesses and will be a strong legacy that will continue after this year’s festival ends.” LCVS is working with Tomorrow’s People, Merseyside Youth Association, Positive Futures, Uprising and YPAS to find young people to join the initiative. IFB2016 is being delivered in partnership with UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), the GREAT Britain Campaign and with the support of the UK Government, the festival will bring thousands of people to Liverpool to trade with UK businesses. The festival runs from June 13 to July 1 and will be held at ACC Liverpool on the waterfront of the city, which will be brimming with ideas and innovation for three weeks. Festival Director Ian McCarthy said: “The issue of youth unemployment is a huge one for the UK which resonates around the world. “There are young people who are hungry for opportunities and would be dedicated employees, however, there are barriers that stop them, often unfairly, from achieving even the smallest victory that could lead to big success. “First Day is a noble and worthwhile programme that could change the lives of hundreds, maybe thousands or more, young people who want to be in work and enjoy a better life. “The drive and ambition will also benefit companies who will find good people just short of an opportunity which could boost productivity, grow profits and spearhead expansion, which is what we want to see happen from IFB2016 and I hope that First Day builds a lasting legacy from this year’s festival.” The youngsters will engage and talk to business leaders and discover what it takes to succeed, how to lead and what fears and obstacles have been overcome. First Day wants business leaders to engage with them by providing their own experiences of their first day, sharing them on the First Day website and through social media to be watched by young people. Many business leaders have contributed to a special film for the programme, which is now available on the First Day website. It is also hoped that businesses attending IFB2016 will make tickets available for First Day’s young people so they can learn more about different sectors and will sign up to the programme to provide struggling young people with a First Day experience in their company or business.