VISA Europe, AXA Wealth and Lilly are among some of Basingstoke’s top companies helping to raise the skills and aspirations of young people in the borough this year.

The companies are all supporting an initiative called Skillstree, run by educational charity Basingstoke Consortium.

Consortium chief executive Sue Riley said Skillstree is designed to help prepare young people for working life by working with local businesses and community groups to deliver a variety of practical workshops, challenges, employer visits, work experience and mentoring.

In doing so, the scheme aims to bridge the gap between the skills needed by businesses and those that young people have when they enter the world of work.

Last year, Skillstree supported 800 young people aged 11 to 18 and, in announcing its sponsors for 2013, Basingstoke Consortium hopes to build on this success and help even more local young people.

Sue said: “In the current climate, employers value programmes that help to instil employability skills in their future workforce. This is why we launched Skillstree.

“Young people are really benefiting by gaining access to some truly inspiration-al role models, mentors and experiences.

“None of this would be possible without the support of our sponsors – all local organisations that see the benefit of investing in their community.

“We are glad to have the continuing support of many partners and to welcome new supporters on board too.”

VISA Europe, which has offices at Hampshire International Business Park, has supported Skillstree since its launch last year, and this year, the company is a Platinum sponsor.

Adam Banks, chief technology officer at VISA Europe, said: “Skillstree has a simple role – to raise the skills and aspirations of tomorrow’s workforce. Visa Europe has an equally simple contribution to make – to support Skillstree. That’s why we are delighted to extend our partnership, and role, as Platinum sponsors.

“Supporting and encouraging young people is fundamental to our culture, values, apprenticeship activities and needs as an employer.

“As existing sponsors, we have been very pleased with our association with Skillstree and recent progress, playing our own role in providing work-related experience for many students.

“Now we are looking forward to building on this work as Platinum sponsors and would encourage any organisation to join us in supporting Skillstree’s fine work within the Basingstoke Consortium.”

AXA Wealth, Lilly UK, and AWE are all Gold sponspors. Silver sponsors are Vitacress Salads, Basingstoke ITEC and The University of Winchester.