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Swansea scheme helps young people kick-start their careers

Pictured: Raymond Davies

Hundreds of people are gaining valuable experience in the workplace thanks to two Swansea Council initiatives that help them find work.

The Workways+ scheme offers training, paid work experience and volunteering opportunities to unemployed people over 25 to help them improve their lives and find employment.

It has already supported more than 1,000 people living in Swansea. Some have benefited from paid work experience opportunities in the council’s waste department.

As part of the council’s economic recovery plan and in response to the impact of the pandemic, the council is now offering more than 300 paid work placement opportunities to unemployed people through Workways+ and fellow employment scheme Kickstart.

These opportunities are available across a range of roles in local businesses and organisations, with more than 100 positions based at the council itself.

The UK Government’s Kickstart has seen more than 20 new recruits join teams such as parks, building services, waste management and security.

All recruits are supported by department managers, with wrap around support being provided by a team of experienced mentors and employer liaison officers in the council’s economic development and external funding team.

The support provided has been key to help young people realise their potential, increase their skills and maximise their chances of accessing employment opportunities following their placement.

Yousef Alzyoud, aged 44, of Penclawdd, began a Workways+ placement with the council’s waste management team, June 2021.

He said: “Before starting the placement I was struggling with being unemployed and not being able to provide for my family.

“I’m now supporting them without needing to claim state benefits, which is a positive outcome for us all.

“Since joining Workways+ my mentor has helped me every step of the way and supported me with applications and my CV.

“My paid work opportunity at the council is giving me much-needed hands-on work experience.

“It’s boosted my confidence and wellbeing, and the staff here are extremely supportive.”

Craig Cherrington, 39, of Morriston, began a Workways+ placement with the council’s waste management team, June 2021.

He said: “This opportunity has been excellent – it’s got me back into work and has boosted my confidence.

“I love working with the team in the council’s recycling centre and get so much out of the fact that I’m working with the public and enjoying what I do.

“The support given by the Workways+ team is amazing; they’ve been there the whole time, helping me on this journey and giving me this amazing opportunity.

“I’d recommend Workways+ to everyone on benefits as it really is a way of getting you back into work and back on track. Go for it, it’ll change your life!”

Raymond Davies, 18, of Townhill, began a Kickstart placement with the council’s waste management team, July 2021.

He said: “Kickstart has turned my life around and has helped me out a lot.

“If a young person’s struggling to find work, I recommend speaking to their work coach.

“My placement is going really well, I’m learning different things and I’m happy where I am, hoping to get a full-time job.

“I get along with all the other workers and everyone’s decent.”

Daniel Thomas, 25, of Treboeth, began a Kickstart placement with the council’s waste management team, August 2021.

He said: “Kickstart has given me the opportunity to build on skills and experience within the workplace.

“I’m really enjoying my placement – it’s nice to be earning proper money working with a great team.”

Robert Francis-Davies, council cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, said: “We want to help Swansea people into work. Kickstart and Workways+ may be the schemes for many people and businesses.

“This type of initiative is helping Swansea to lead the way out of the pandemic. Our city’s £1bn regeneration programme will also be a major driver of future success.”

Alyson Pugh, cabinet member for supporting communities, said: “The council does a lot to help local people and Kickstart – which has seen opportunities for around 100 young people to work within the council – will mean more skills and confidence among the local workforce.

“I’m delighted that young people joining the council on this scheme feel so positively about our work with Kickstart.

“Workways+ is also proving to be popular and successful.”