Young people seeking work in Wolverhampton are breaking down boundaries with one of the city’s major employers thanks to support from Wolves at Work’s delivery of the Kickstart programme.

Collins Aerospace, which provides solutions for the global aerospace and defence industry, has so far taken 4 Kickstart participants onto its apprenticeship programme - including their first ever female heat operative, Tianna Smalling.

Kickstart provides Government funding for a 6 month work experience placement – and Wolves at Work has connected young people, aged 16 to 24, with Collins.

It follows November’s City Youth Summit, where Collins Aerospace answered City of Wolverhampton Council’s rallying call - and joined other city employers in pledging to help reduce youth unemployment in the city.

Tianna, of Fordhouses, said: “I used to work in Greggs and everyone jokes at Collins that I’ve gone from working with pastries to planes!

“Everyone has supported me and helped me get to this point. I’m really happy working at Collins and I can’t believe how things have changed for me.”

Collins Aerospace UK Early Careers Lead, Wolverhampton, Actuation Systems, Oliver Herrmann, said: “With Collins Aerospace being one of the largest employers in the City of Wolverhampton, we are extremely well positioned to support our local community, and through the Kickstart programme, we have been able to access new pools of local talent.

“It is our role as employers to help develop them into the best individuals that they can be and support their career paths not just whilst they’re on placement but beyond.

“I am extremely proud of all of our Kickstart new hires for their dedication and hard work and would like to thank everyone who has supported them during their placements.

“We will do everything we can to support young people into employment in Wolverhampton and we are fully supportive of the Wolves at Work 18-24 initiative to break down barriers. We want to provide role models to young people in our communities.”

City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Work, Councillor Chris Burden, said: “Our Wolves at Work team is working hard to connect young people in Wolverhampton to jobs, training and learning opportunities with city employers.

“Tianna’s story is inspirational and is just one example of what our young people can achieve.

“We have a wealth of untapped talent amongst our young people in Wolverhampton and they just need the opportunity for that talent to shine.

“Collins Aerospace have responded brilliantly to our call to action for a one city approach to tackling the issue of youth unemployment – and I would urge other employers to follow their example.”

DWP Business Development Leader, Cathy Taylor, added: “I can see the real difference that we have made to improve young people’s lives through the Kickstart initiative and this is a great example of the scheme’s success. The Jobcentre also worked closely with Wolverhampton Council who were the gateway organisation for this Collins Aerospace recruitment.”

The Kickstart gateway in Wolverhampton has seen the recruitment of 68 young people into placements – 30 at the Council – with more than 10 already going on to secure employment.