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Published 26 July 2018

West Dunbartonshire Council is offering young people free driving lessons in a bid to improve their chances of securing a job.

The Support to Drive scheme, part of Working4U, offers funding for lessons and a practical driving test to people between 17 and 24 living in the region.

The initiative, which first launched in 2014, will primarily focus on helping young apprentices and young people who have required support from the care system.

The last session saw 52 young people paired up with local qualified instructors, with 20 passes to date and ongoing lessons.

Councillor Diane Docherty, Convener of Housing and Communities, said: “We are delighted to be bringing back the scheme for another intake of young people.

“Anything we can do to assist our young population along the path to employment is worthwhile, especially those young people who will benefit most from help.

“For some, learning this vital skill can simply build much-needed confidence to get out there into the world of work, and for others it opens more doors to different types of jobs and workplaces.”

Cllr Caroline McAllister, Vice-Convener of Housing and Communities, added: “This scheme offers young people an opportunity they might otherwise never have access to, and it could be a real life line for some.

“We have high levels of youth unemployment in West Dunbartonshire but we are doing all we can to try and address this and help break that cycle.”

Each participant can access up to 20 lessons funded by Working4U, and afterwards are assessed to see whether they would benefit from more.

The selection process for 2018-19 has been altered slightly so young people who would benefit most from gaining their driving license in relation to employability needs can access the programme.

A number of places (40%) will be offered to Modern Apprentices who, with a driving license, will be able to compete for a wider range of jobs in the Council area.

And as part of a commitment to support our young people who have needed help from the care system, 20% of places on the scheme will be reserved for them.

Applicants who are unemployed with two or more barriers – including a disability, low skills, lack of qualifications, low confidence, and young carers – will also be prioritised.

All applications will be shortlisted and assessed. Successful candidates will be invited to complete a mock theory test and the top scoring 50 will be offered a place on the scheme.

Laura Graham, 23, passed her test first time after taking part in the scheme and she hasn’t looked back.

Laura, a tattoo artist from Dumbarton, said: “I had wanted to learn to drive for ages but I could never afford to pay for lessons.

“I didn’t have a job when I applied for the course and I do now so learning to drive has really helped.

“It allowed me to widen my job search because I could travel further for work and it improved my CV when employers saw I could drive.

“I use my car for work a lot so it’s been great.

“I would really recommend applying to be part of the project – I had a lesson once a week and my driving instructor was lovely. I had never even had one lesson before I started this and I managed to pass first time.”

College student Michal Grygorcewicz, 18, also passed through the scheme and said: “I’ve been turned down for jobs in the past because I didn’t have my license so I definitely think having taken part in this course will help me in the future. A lot of jobs just need somebody who can drive.”

To find out whether you are eligible and for more information, please apply at: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/MXBY3SY

The closing date is 15 August 2018 at 12 noon.