YOUNGSTERS in Havant have been the first to take part in an innovative programme to raise the aspirations of schoolchildren.
About 15 pupils at Havant Academy have been attending workshops at Langstone Technology Park, aimed at improving their confidence and sparking their ambitions to do well at school and find new jobs.
The Leap project – the Learn, Excel, Aspire, Programme – was organised by the Portsmouth and south-east Hampshire Education Business partnership (EBP), and Fasset, the management company which looks after the park.
The pupils attended five workshops, working alongside professionals from Fasset.
The youngsters, who are all 14, split into four teams and gave presentations on what they had learned to VIPs including Ken and Hazel Smith, the mayor and mayoress of Havant.
The scheme has been so successful that Fasset is looking at holding similar projects in the future, and wants to encourage other businesses to get on board with the programme.
Fasset managing director Gary Medlow said: ‘It was a long journey and every one of them grew immeasurably, and every kid here exceeded their own expectations as well as ours.
‘We will do more of this.’
The programme also got a ringing endorsement from the pupils, who all said the biggest thing it gave them was confidence.
‘Do it’ was the message from Joanne Longhurst to other youngsters.
Mayor Ken Smith said he wanted to see the programme rolled out across the region in order to promote work-based learning.
He said: ‘There are 640 under-24s in Havant who aren’t in employment, and at the same time there are more than 600 jobs available.
‘But they don’t have the right skills for those jobs. We need to promote vocational schemes as well as university courses.’
The pupils will be presented with certificates in front of their classmates at an assembly.