Employability and education programme celebrates its tenth year of ongoing success

HITZ, Premiership Rugby’s flagship education and employability programme, is celebrating ten years of tackling unemployment with over 13,000 young people participating in the programme.

Over the last decade, the 13 Premiership Rugby member clubs have used rugby’s core values of teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship to support 14-24-year-olds not in education, training or employment (NEET).

The programme allows these young people, who may have fallen out of the education system or have had a troubled upbringing, to gain valuable qualifications and work experience to get their lives back on track.

In its decade of delivery, 81% participants have progressed on to education, training or employment and 85% report an improvement in personal, social and physical wellbeing.

A truly inclusive programme, 42% of participants had a disability and 21% were from BAME ethnic groups in the most recent HITZ term (2017/18), both far in excess of the national average.

“We’re incredibly proud of the impact that HITZ continues to have on the lives of young people,” said Wayne Morris, Community & CSR Director at Premiership Rugby. “Our clubs work tirelessly in their local communities to reach out to participants and a lot of the young individuals we find are in a perilous position. This can often be due to factors out of their control such as family tragedy or a troubled upbringing which has led them down the wrong path.

“It’s great that we’re able to provide qualification and work experience opportunities for these young people, but as importantly, it’s about someone putting an arm around them and providing them with someone they can speak to.”

Premiership Rugby clubs appoint a dedicated ‘HITZ Officer’ who are carefully recruited to ensure they have the necessary inter-personal skills which allow them to empathise with potential participants. As well as sourcing participants through local communities, a key part of their role is building a rapport with these participants and get them thinking about employment in a positive way again.

Participants can gain qualifications in Maths, English, Sport and Employability skills through the HITZ Learning Academy, aimed specifically at 16-24-year olds. Hosted in a relaxed and safe classroom environment, the programme at each club traditionally runs four days a week, with participants also given the chance to channel their energy through playing sport.

Morris adds: “This has all been possible by sport acting as a positive influence on these young people’s lives. It’s not just about getting people onto the programme and expecting them to want a qualification, it’s about investing in them as people and gaining an understanding of their position. We’re privileged to have given some amazing young people another chance in life and we hope for another ten years of using the power of sport to inspire through HITZ.”

The HITZ programme is funded by partners Land Rover, Comic Relief and Wooden Spoon. 

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