New scheme offers fresh start to jobless young people hit hardest by pandemic

Kickstart; pictured (Centre) Andrew Bowden of Cartrefi Conwy, with (from left) Paul Fitzpatrick of PF&S, Gemma Kalvanagh of Clwyd Alyn, Sharon Jones of Creating Enterprise, Howard Vaughan and Mark Parry of Brenig. Picture Mandy Jones

A new scheme has been launched to provide a fresh start for 30 unemployed young people who have suffered most during the pandemic.

In North Wales the Gateway Kickstart programme will provide six-month job placements for 16 to 25-year-olds via a new partnership.

It includes Mochdre-based Creating Enterprise who are working with housing associations Cartrefi Conwy and ClwydAlyn alongside North Wales builders Brenig Construction and Anglesey-based electrical contractors PF&S.

The placements  will cover a range of skills including construction but also environmental and administrative roles.

The aim is to help participants develop the skills and experience they need to find work after completing the scheme.

The scheme pays employers 100 per cent of the National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week.

Cartrefi Conwy’s Director of Partnerships, Sharon Jones, said: “It’s about giving young people a kickstart, giving them a chance of employment.

“They’re the ones who have lost their jobs through the pandemic and now don’t know what to do.

“This is about giving them the experience and the skills so we can deliver this with our local partner employers and support them in finding permanent roles at the end of the six months and get 30 young people into jobs.

“We have a whole range available from trade to office roles and part of Kickstart is to also support them with employment skills.”

The programme is being run by Creating Enterprise who are working with the Department of Work and Pensions to inform local unemployed 16- to 24-year-olds about the roles through the Kickstart scheme.

The aim is for Cartrefi Conwy and Creating Enterprise to provide 11 places each with ClwydAlyn taking on four and Brenig Construction and PF&S two each.

Mark Parry, Joint Managing Director at Brenig, said: “It’s great that we can offer these opportunities at a time when young people’s lives and future careers have been affected disproportionately.

“We are a growing company and need good people with the necessary skills to continue to be successful.

“We work closely with Creating Enterprise to recruit people and we can give them the hard skills they need through the Passport to Construction but we can also offer them the soft skills like how to give an interview and present yourself which can enhance their future chances of employment.”

Andrew Bowden, Chief Executive of Cartrefi Conwy, said: “I’m really pleased that along with our subsidiary, Creating Enterprise, and the other businesses we can be involved with providing these benefits to young people.

“We are not just about providing good and decent homes for people but also about providing opportunities for work and to gain experience and I’m hoping that many of them will be able to prove themselves and find permanent jobs as a result.”

Gemma Kavanagh, Organisational Culture Strategic Lead for ClwydAlyn Housing Group, said: “Young people have been really impacted by the pandemic and it could have a long-lasting effect on them and their future employment prospects.

“This scheme gives us the opportunity to create four completely different roles which we haven’t recruited for previously, two in groundworks with the potential to put them on long-term apprenticeships, with the others in customer services and as a repairs co-ordinator.

“There is real potential for these to become sustainable and positive employment opportunities at the same time as helping us transform our services in line with our mission of beating poverty and creating sustainable employment is key to that.”

Paul Fitzpatrick, of PF&S Ltd, said: “We’re always looking for good people so this is a shop window and we have been involved with schemes like this for several years.

“This isn’t something we’re forced to do and if they’ve got the right attitude and aptitude then why wouldn’t I want to take them on.”