More than 54,000 people across Wales have been supported to improve their career prospects and get into work in the first two years of Working Wales – the Welsh Government’s employability service, Economy Minister Vaughan Gething announced today.
Launched by the Welsh Government in 2019, Working Wales is available to anyone over the age of 16 and not in full-time education. The service, delivered by Careers Wales and backed by EU funds, offers a tailored approach to individuals, based on personal circumstances. Support available includes referrals to job-specific training, job searches and finding work placements.
To date, 67% of people contacting Working Wales have been referred to further support or opportunities including employment, funded education and training. Of these, nearly 5,500 individuals received intensive job search, interview skills and CV support.
Working Wales has proven its value over the pandemic by quickly diversifying its services in response to the impact of COVID-19 and the growing challenge of unemployment.
To date, it has helped 54,351 people upskill, train and find jobs.
One of those supported by Working Wales is David Rutter, 39, a chef from Anglesey. The service helped David find the perfect work/life balance after he was furloughed from his job as head chef at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While furlough offered him job security, and the knowledge he would be able to return to work when restrictions lifted, time away from the role changed David’s mind-set. He decided he wanted a job change, something he realised he could do through Working Wales.
“When the pandemic hit, like many in the hospitality industry, I was put on furlough. It gave me the time to reflect on the things I wanted. Even though I loved working as a chef, I was spending more time with my two-year-old daughter.
“I decided to seek advice from Working Wales after finding their website. At first I was under the assumption that I would have to completely change my career, but my advisor quickly showed me that I could have the best of both worlds. In our initial one-hour conversation, they told me how my transferable skills could allow me to continue in the role I loved and helped me to see that there are jobs out there with the hours I wanted, that would allow me to continue spending time with my daughter.
David now works as the head chef at a children’s nursery, which happens to be the same one his daughter attends. His passion for cooking and his years of experience in various settings, including time spent as a chef in Saudi Arabia, left him keen to continue working as a chef.
“I hadn’t necessarily wanted to change careers, just the hours. Without the help of Working Wales, I don’t think I would have found a role that allowed me to use my existing skills and still spend quality time with my daughter. She learned to walk while I was on furlough, and it was moments like that I knew I didn’t want to miss out on.
“Not everyone can say they genuinely look forward to going to work, but I am one of the lucky ones who can say I really do. Working in the same nursery my daughter goes to, and still getting to see her outside of works thanks to a sociable working schedule is a real gift. I am so grateful to Working Wales for their support and time they spent with me to help me find the work/life balance I’ve always wanted.
Commenting on the success of Working Wales to date, Minister for Economy, Vaughan Gething said:
“As part of the Welsh Government’s ambitious recovery plans from Covid-19, we are determined to ensure there is no lost generation, in a Wales that becomes an engine for sustainable, inclusive growth.
“Working Wales provides free advice and guidance every day to people all across Wales to help them into work, whether that’s young people making their first transition to the workplace or people that are on low incomes and need to change their career. The service has seen an upsurge in people who have been made redundant or worried that they are at risk of being made redundant. Working Wales has never before been more valuable than during our current challenging times.
“Through Working Wales we aim to offer advice on how to get sustainable employment and create career paths. What we must never forget is that behind every single job created and vacancy filled, there is a human success story – of someone whose family income, self-esteem and life chances are all hugely improved by being in work.
“We are working with organisations across the board to ensure that people don’t just find a job, but a good job – and Working Wales is changing people’s stories by helping them find work, upskill through courses and access training, support or funding opportunities. It is crucial that people are positive about their future job opportunities, and Working Wales helps engage, motivate, and reassure them of their worth.
With 4.4% of people aged 16-64 in Wales currently unemployed (Labour Force Survey, Jan-March 2021), Working Wales adapted its services to continue to provide support to those facing barriers to employment.
Nikki Lawrence, Chief Executive of Careers Wales, said:
“We are so proud of everything Working Wales has achieved since its launch two years ago. The pandemic has taught us that we can adapt our services in challenging times to continue to offer meaningful support and opportunities to people across Wales who are looking for work or to improve their job prospects.
“The impact of the pandemic on the job market has certainly been the most difficult challenge we’ve faced in recent years with many people having to overcome additional barriers to finding work. Through our teams of dedicated advisers working all across Wales, we want to continue to empower people to gain the skills and experience we know employers are looking for, now more than ever.”
Julie James MS for Swansea West said: “It’s really great to see Welsh Government programmes like this helping local people in Swansea as well as people all over Wales as we come out of this very difficult year. We really can build back better, its fantastic to see people being helped into sustainable employment and good career paths and I know that we will continue to build our economy so that everyone can great opportunities like this”
To find out how Working Wales can help you, call 0800 028 4844 or visit www.workingwales.gov.wales