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£75m employment programme outstrips job targets
Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Jeff Cuthbert, who is visiting some of the firms and individuals benefiting from Jobs Growth Wales, has announced that the £75m three-year scheme is fast approaching 6,000 new job opportunities created for people aged between 16-24.
Launched in April 2012, the flagship programme funds wages for up to six months to allow employers take on unemployed young people with a view to offer them sustainable posts at the end of the 6 months. The original target was to create 4,000 opportunities each year for three years.
Among the firms taking part is Vista Retail Services, a specialist IT support provider for high street stores, which has recruited six new staff through the EU-backed scheme since last summer. Four have already progressed onto apprenticeships.
The Deputy Minister heard first-hand from these young people during a visit to the firm’s centre at Pentwyn on the outskirts of Cardiff.
One of them, Eleni Saunders, 24, from Wenvoe, told him how Jobs Growth Wales had given her a major new opportunity after several months on Job Seekers Allowance, following the end of a temporary sales job at a utility company last summer. She’s now an apprentice in logistics.
Eleni, who did business studies at college, said:
"I saw the position advertised and knew straight away it was something I wanted to do. Jobs Growth Wales not only got me back into work, it gave me the chance to do something I had always wanted. It’s opened up exciting new career opportunities."
Recruiting and training the six young people has helped Vista to deliver major new contracts to maintain hi-tech checkouts and other electronic equipment in high street stores, including BHS, Monsoon and Toys R Us.
HR Manager Kathryn Powell said:
"There was a lot of extra work generated which our more experienced staff dealt with, while the new recruits were on hand to support them. In return we found new people with valuable skills who we have now decided to employ permanently. Jobs Growth Wales has been a win-win for both parties. Eleni and her colleagues have gained work experience and chance for further study to progress in their working lives too."
Jobs Growth Wales is divided into four strands: the private sector strand, the third sector strand, the graduate strand and the self-employment strand, which helps young people to set up their own business. Of the nearly 6,000 job opportunities created so far more than 4,000 have already been filled.
In order to qualify, employers must engage the young people for between 25 and 40 hours a week and they are funded for six months to cover salary and national insurance costs up to minimum wage level. Initial research indicates that around three in every four recruits are kept on at the end of the six months, with many progressing onto formal apprenticeship training.
The Deputy Minister will also be visiting Ludlow Street Healthcare in Cardiff, which has just given permanent employment with training to three young people it recruited via Jobs Growth Wales.
One of three, Craig Wadley, 22, from Pencoed Bridgend, has been using skills from a former role with the Citizens Advice Bureau to help create and distribute new interactive e-learning courses for Ludlow Street’s staff. Another, Dean Spencer, 24, from Llanelli, is using previous experience from a job with a Swansea law firm to streamline the company’s data storage and free up valuable computer capacity.
"I was really pleased to get a placement. It’s provided me with a job and I know the experience will have an extremely positive long-term effect on my career."
Joanna Millichip-Sweet, Training Coordinator at Ludlow Street, said:
"The enthusiasm, skills and use of initiative that all of our Jobs Growth Wales candidates have displayed has really helped us. We are delighted with their contributions."
The Deputy Minister said:
"It’s very encouraging that Jobs Growth Wales is playing such a positive role in giving young people valuable career opportunities and helping companies to grow.
"Early data indicates that those completing the full six-month opportunity have an extremely high chance of sustaining employment. The number of progressions onto apprenticeships is also very promising.
"Reducing youth unemployment is one of the Welsh Government’s top priorities and Jobs Growth Wales is playing a major part in this."
Prospective candidates for Jobs Growth Wales find opportunities by visiting Careers Wales.