STOURBRIDGE Community Development Trust has launched an innovative programme to offer a range of skills to the next generation.

The trust has been working with Ridgewood High School in Wollaston on a pilot project, which aims to help secondary school pupils to develop their skills and knowledge in design and craftsmanship.

Supported by councillors and the Police Crime Commissioners’ Active Citizens Fund - the scheme - called Square Pegs - aims to equip young learners with industry skills to open up their potential and it has a specific focus on working with children with special educational needs.

Simon Beckett, design tech at Ridgewood High School, said the project has already kicked off and products made by the youngsters including original, handmade Christmas decorations are now on sale in the Made in Stourbridge shop in Stourbridge's Ryemarket shopping centre.

He continued: "Pupils will learn a range of skills from traditional wood and metal working with hand tools right through to CAD, laser CNC and 3D printing, product marketing and even some sales experience in the shop.

"They will also gain a great deal of knowledge from visiting industry experts and develop social skills and confidence by selling the products themselves."

Anthony Hughes, a director of the Trust, said: “The pupils will gain a range of personal skills that they can then use to access apprenticeships, to enhance their employability or to start their own business.

"It’s a wide ranging approach to deal with the gap in the UK skilled labour sector and ultimately, we hope, to boost the local economy here in the town.

"We are establishing some great industry stakeholder support such as Dyson Foundation who will provide dedicated learning kits for the pupils to use and inspire their own designs Made By Ridgewood."

Profits from the sale of the Ridgewood school pupils' Christmas decorations will be reinvested back into the Square Pegs programme.