THE Jobs Growth Wales scheme has been hailed as one of the Welsh Government’s biggest success stories for both employers and jobseekers since its launch in 2012.
Latest figures released show the youth employment programme has now created more than 14,500 job opportunities and more than 11,300 young people have been employed thanks to the scheme.
The scheme, which is jointly funded by the Welsh Government and European Social Fund, aims to streamline the recruitment process and put employers in touch with employers who they otherwise may have missed.
Jobseekers aged 16 to 24 who are living in Wales are offered a six-month work placement, while employers are given financial help by the Welsh Government to pay the recruitment costs.
After graduating from Cardiff University in Business Management, 25-year-old Kiri Wismann had 10 interviews before she signed up for the Jobs Growth Wales scheme.
She said: “The key factor was always experience. To get a job you need experience but no one was willing to give it to me. It is a huge risk when you take someone on.
Kiri went through the Graduate Opportunities Wales project, a service designed to help graduates get work with businesses after skilled employees.
She said: “The GO Wales project was advertised by the university. Out of my 10 friends who graduated, 6 went through the Go Wales scheme and from that 4 out of 6 got permanent employment.”
For Kiri, whose family are half Flemish, the scheme meant she was able to be put in touch with a construction business in Aberbeeg which were looking to develop in Europe and needed a Flemish-speaker.
She joined the company Blackwood Engineering, which makes counterweights for construction machinery, in 2012 and has never looked back.
“My language skills are quite unique for the area. My family is from Amsterdam and I spent a lot of my time there as a child so the Flemish language is second nature to me.
I did not think I’d ever find a job where I could travel back and forth. The culture there is a little different so it also means I’m able to understand it.”
Project adviser at GO Wales, Alastair Mutch, said: “We’re thrilled that the Jobs Growth Wales graduate scheme delivered by GO Wales has been able to benefit Blackwood Engineering and so many other companies in the region.
“We’ve been able to give local employers access to the wealth of graduate talent and skills that Wales has to offer.”
Employers too have also welcomed the scheme, which covers the minimum-wage salary and National Insurance costs for six months and means a good match can be found.
Manager at Blackwood Engineering, Dominic Connor, 27, took Kiri on after wanting to expand their site in Belgium.
He said: “Costs to operate in the Valleys were too much so now we ship in our products from China. But we were having to ship them back over to Europe so we started the Belgian site to streamline the process.
“Kiri has been very supportive in developing our European market. She had certain qualities which weren’t so easy to come across.”
To qualify for the scheme, businesses must prove the position they are recruiting for is additional to the existing workforce to demonstrate growth.
Mr Connor said he started to consider the Jobs Growth Wales process when production began to increase again post-recession.
He said: “When the recession hit we saw a 50 per cent hit in production. By 2010 to 2011 things were starting to increase again. We were in close contact with the Welsh Government so thought we’d try Jobs Growth Wales”
“Two years down the line and Kiri is still with us.”
£100 million has been ploughed into Jobs Growth Wales since April 2012, with half of this money provided by the Welsh Government and half from the European Social Fund.
In Blaenau Gwent, there have been 445 job opportunities created of which 310 have been filled.
More than 80 per cent of the young people taken on by the scheme will continue to be in full employment of learning after the six month period is up.
Paul Connor, owner of Blackwood Engineering, said Jobs Growth Wales has meant the recruitment net can be cast wider.
In the case of the match between Kiri and Dominic, AM Alun Davies for Blaenau Gwent said the growth of the European links is a sign the whole economy beginning to work again.
“It’s a win-win situation for everybody. Funding is due to continue into 2015 and we just want to help businesses grow.”