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Published 07 June 2019

West Dunbartonshire Council is offering young people free driving lessons for the sixth year in a row as part of a commitment to improving employability.

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.

Applications for the scheme will be accepted between June 12 and June 23, with successful candidates being given an appointment to attend to complete a mock theory test, taking place on June 27.

The 50 highest scoring participants within the designated categories will be invited to join the scheme, meaning they can access up to 20 lessons funded by Working4U.

The selection process for 2019-20 will help ensure that 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.

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.

“A driving licence has many different benefits for young people. From an employment point of view it widens their geographical remit for vacancies, but it also gives them a sense of independence, and confidence, which are excellent attributes for the world of work. I wish every applicant the best of luck.”

Cllr Caroline McAllister, Vice-Convener of Housing and Communities, added: “Many of the people who will access this scheme will not ordinarily have been able to afford driving lessons, so this is a truly valuable resource for our young residents, and a real helping hand into employment.

“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.”

James Sutherland, 22, has already passed his test after starting his lessons in October 2018.

The Learning Assistant and Lead Young Person for West Dunbartonshire Champions Board, said: “This scheme has benefited me massively. With my driving license I can now be more involved with my position within the Council.

“It has also given me more potential opportunities with universities further away from home when I’m applying next year. Being able to just hop in the car and drive places really does make a massive difference with day-to-day tasks.

“The process from start to finish with the Support to Drive scheme has been really smooth. My instructor Douglas Campbell was fantastic. He was calm and approachable and put me at ease while doing my lessons. I would highly recommend this scheme to anyone thinking of applying as it will make a huge difference to your daily life and opportunities available to you.”

To find out whether you are eligible and for more information, please visit: Driving Lessons Survey when the survey opens on 12 June.

The closing date is midday on 23 June.