Government looks at mentoring

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The Government plans to introduce adult mentors to support teenagers and offer them advise on careers, relationships and problems such as drugs, it was reported last night.

Tony Blair is understood to want to concentrate on "problem" teenagers when he first introduces the scheme in the autumn, but wants to extend the scheme to youngsters from all backgrounds eventually.

A number of British companies, including Sainsbury's, Marks & Spencer and Price Waterhouse, already run ethnic minority mentoring schemes in which employees team up with ethnic minority undergraduates and help them develop skills and assist them in embarking on their careers.

Research by the National Mentoring Consortium, founded in 1994 and based at the University of East London, has shown that 75 per cent of mentees felt more confident applying for jobs after participating in the scheme. Eighty-one per cent of mentees felt their self-confidence had been enhanced and 94 per cent said they found the one-to-one scheme valuable.

When the National Mentoring Consortium was launched, 25 employers were able to provide 50 places, matching students wtih appropriate African and Asian professionals. That number has now risen to more than 12,000 and thescheme is supported by 12 other universities and 50 employers. Clare Garner