The local branch of a national chain of family restaurants has been praising the Welsh Government’s Employability Skills Programme after utilising it as a means of recruiting staff for its recently opened restaurant in Abergavenny.

Management at The Brewer’s Fayre have experienced first-hand how the programme can be a highly efficient and effective means of recruiting, training and retaining staff with the right skills for their business.

Operations Manager, Marcus Ramsdale said, “Ahead of the opening of the restaurant I was happy to explore all different avenues of recruitment to ensure we found a team of competent and committed staff that were right for our business.

“Following an initial meeting with people at The Job Centre to discuss our recruitment needs they suggested that we tried using the Employability Skills Programme. After a series of discussions we decided to hold an open day at The Job Centre and had a fantastic response but the real challenge was finding people with the right skills, experience and attitude.

“We identified ten potential employees through this programme and invited them to attend a basic training course. After completion of the course we offered six individuals a placement in the restaurant to try their hand at a variety of positions we had available, from front of house to customer service and kitchen work and all of them are now working for us on a permanent basis.

“We found the programme to be a great way of identifying people who not only had the right transferable skills and experience but also the appropriate work ethic. Our business is not 9-5 so our employees need to be flexible and willing to work unsociable hours. In return we pride ourselves on being a flexible employer. We work with each of our employees to ensure we offer them the shifts that complement any external commitments they have such as childcare. We find that this way we retain a loyal, hardworking and happy workforce.

“As well as providing us with the perfect avenue to recruit, train and retain a strong workforce, the programme is also the ideal avenue to help provide people who are finding it difficult to secure employment with the opportunity to gain some real-life work experience and a taster of what a job in the hospitality sector would entail.

“We’d recommend the programme to any organisation who is struggling to recruit the right staff for their business and want to fill any skills shortages within their workforce.”

The Employability Skills Programme is designed to provide individuals with the confidence and experience they need to get a job through high-quality work experience placements that provide work-based learning, employability and skills training workshops, upskilling in essential skills and dedicated support staff.

Eluned Morgan, Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning, said: “Although employment figures in Wales continue to rise, over a fifth of our workforce remains economically inactive (1). Those searching for work can face a ‘chicken and egg’ situation where they struggle to find a job because they lack the skills and experience employers want, but they can only gain those skills through working.

“The Employability Skills Programme was designed to help these individuals who want to work, gain the skills they need to find a job and become economically active. For businesses, it offers a time and cost-effective solution to filling skills gaps, and gives them time to get to know an individual before offering them a job and ensure they’re recruiting the right people.

“By working together to offer economically inactive individuals a route into work, and the opportunity to improve their basic skills, businesses using the Employability Skills Programme are helping to ensure Wales has the skills base it needs for the economy to not only grow, but to thrive. In the face of uncertainty, this will help ensure Wales continues to compete on the world stage, both now and in the future.”