Transport giant Arriva is ploughing £500,000 into helping Wearside youngsters into employment.
The Doxford International-based group is backing the World of Work being developed at the new Beacon of Light.
The World of Work zone will provide a work-based learning environment for over-14s in a range of fields which could include sport, education and training, business skills and catering and hospitality.
It will help bridge the gap between school and work, easing the transition for both employees and youngsters, as well as inspiring those without jobs to address barriers to their own employment..
Developed by the Foundation of Light, the Beacon will use the power of football to help people gain skills and qualifications and work with families and communities.
Arriva’s Chief Financial Officer Martin Hibbert said: "We are really excited and enthused by the concept of the Beacon of Light.
"We feel that, as a company “born” in Sunderland, this is the perfect permanent legacy for Arriva to give something more back to the area.
"Arriva is passionate about developing skills in the local economy and making the North East a better place in which to live and work. The Beacon is a platform to provide more opportunities for people to learn those skills and find fresh employment opportunities.
"It’s a project that will give people the chance to thrive and open up new experiences and is one of the most forward-thinking business and community schemes in the region."
Arriva supports many community projects across the North East: "The opportunity to get involved with the project was an easy decision. Arriva is an important local jobs provider with lots of expertise so we are determined to contribute as much as possible.” added Mr Hibbert.
Foundation of Light chief executive Lesley Spuhler OBE said: "The Beacon of Light exemplifies the Foundation’s ground-breaking approach to changing lives and Arriva’s backing for the development of the World of Work is immensely important to the project.
"Arriva has supported the Foundation for many years so we are delighted they have chosen to further strengthen their partnership with us and to help more people acquire vital skills, qualifications and ultimately employment.
"The Beacon will fuse together the world of work, education, sport and health and well-being like no other place in the UK but it would not be possible without the support of forward thinking companies like Arriva.”
Working with leading businesses such as Arriva , the World of Work Zone will blend learning and reality to help more young people to transition from education into work - and making a valuable contribution to the region’s economy.