Liam kick-starts new career after injury ends his football dreams

A budding soccer star from Preston whose sports career was cut short by injury has been helped into a splashing new job.

Liam Robinson, 20, was one of a number of struggling young jobseekers from Preston and Blackburn to get a foot on the career ladder thanks to water company United Utilities.

The United Utilities Youth Programme has racked up a near 80 per cent success rate in getting participants into paid employment since it started in 2014.

Of the latest nine recruits from Preston and Blackburn, seven found jobs by the time the six-week programme ended, and the company is still hunting opportunities for the rest.

Liam was left in the doldrums after his promising eight-year youth career with a professional football club ended in injury leaving him with few qualifications and no work experience outside football.

He is now a jetting and CCTV operator with one of the company’s partners, Sapphire Utility Solutions, with designs of getting into management.

Said Liam: “I was in a low place. I was accepting that my dreams of being a footballer were gone and it was all for nothing. Thankfully to the Jobcentre and to United Utilities they’ve allowed me to totally change my mind set, how I think, and I’m just excited to move forward now.”

Another participant, Ellie Pegg, 18, from Blackburn, landed a job at United Utilities as an administrator after overcoming issues with self-confidence. However, people also found roles with other employers. Two of the Blackburn ‘graduates’ found jobs outside United Utilities in food retail and IT.

It’s the tenth time the company has run the twice-yearly scheme and it has been so effective that former education secretary Justine Greening, a social mobility champion, is meeting with United Utilities at Westminster next week to find out more.

United Utilities Social Mobility Manager Katie Moffatt said the programme was aimed at 18 to 24-year-olds, not in employment, education or training, whose individual circumstances meant they found it harder than others to break into the job market.

“We don’t ask for any academic qualifications or CV’s and there are no interviews, we are purely looking for potential and commitment to work. People join us for lots of different reasons and have often faced difficult circumstances in the past. Some of the participants have no qualifications and some them have a university degree.

“We run these programmes twice a year depending on where we have enough opportunities and suitable vacancies available. At the moment, we’re building a huge multi-million pound upgrade to the wastewater treatment works in Blackburn which will create work for a number of years, so we decided to run the course there for the first time. It’s been fantastic, a great success.”

United Utilities Youth Programme takes place in different areas, depending on the availability of suitable roles. Previous programmes have been run in Warrington and Cumbria. Potential participants are put forward by the local Jobcentre.