Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Music to Our Ears as Chamber Orchestra Gets in Tune with Apprenticeship Scheme

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Music to Our Ears as Chamber Orchestra Gets in Tune with Apprenticeship Scheme

Article excerpt

Byline: David Cohen

BRITAIN'S oldest chamber orchestra and Europe's largest centre for the arts have signed up to the Standard's campaign to help jobless young Londoners into work, and hailed the campaign as "a guiding light for social mobility".

The London Chamber Orchestra has pledged to take on one paid apprentice for a year, as has the Southbank Centre, neither organisation having ever hired an apprentice before. Several international law firms have also joined up, along with dozens of small firms, inspired by our mantra to "just take one".

It brings to 170 the number of apprenticeships created by 66 organisations under our Ladder for London initiative launched just over three weeks ago. So far, 850 companies have registered an interest in taking on paid apprentices through our award-winning campaign partner City Gateway and our first 10 apprentices are just days away from starting work at investment bank Goldman Sachs.

It comes as alarming new figures reveal the full scale of long-term joblessness in the capital: the number of young people claiming jobseeker's allowance for six months or more has risen by 224 per cent since the recession began four years ago. According to a report published today by the Prince's Trust, this figure has increased by more than five times in the boroughs of Lewisham, Sutton and Merton, and has more than doubled in every Olympic borough since 2008.

Billie Wendlekin has been a small but indelible part of this long-term statistic for two years. Unemployed since 2010, this feisty 20-year-old from Tower Hamlets has been desperate to "find a proper job, earn a decent wage and make something" of her life, yet she has faced closed doors at every turn.

But thanks to the London Chamber Orchestra joining Ladder for London, Billie's long search for a job could finally be over.

"I find all music including classical totally uplifting and I would love to take up this wonderful opportunity if the LCO accept me as their apprentice," said Billie.

She was visiting the orchestra for the first time at St John's Smith Square in Westminster before their concert this evening featuring Swedish piano soloist Peter Jablonski in the first of the LCO's 2012/13 season.

Billie, who talked to music director and principal conductor Christopher Warren-Green, a close friend of Prince Charles, told the Standard: "I have applied for scores of jobs but it's always the same answer, 'Sorry, you don't have the experience', 'Sorry, you are not what we are looking for'. This could be a life-changing chance. I will give it my best shot. I am very excited!" IAN Pressland, managing director of the LCO, said: "I believe we can learn a lot from young people with disadvantaged backgrounds, and that they bring something new, exciting and vital to what we do. …

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