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Arming people with the skills to get a job

Published date: 02 January 2014 |
Published by: Rhian Waller 
Read more articles by Rhian Waller  Email reporter


 

THERE’S a sliding scale of significance when it comes to New Year resolutions.

At one end, there are pledges like vowing to eat less chocolate or promising to take the stairs every day instead of the lift.

Then at the other, there are major, life-changing pledges, like getting a job if you have been unemployed for a while or if you’re a young person who has been knocked back by employers.

Household recycling charity Refurbs Flintshire may be able to help.

Looking back over 2013, general manager Cheryl Nance said: “It’s been a busy and productive year at Refurbs.

“We’re so pleased to have helped 21 young people find jobs after improving their skills and experience with us.”

Based in a workshop and community store set on the Aber Park Industrial Estate in Flint, the charity restores and retails affordable household furniture and goods.

I visited them earlier in the year, where I met permanent staff members, including Cheryl, who told me of their pilot scheme to collect fabrics from kerb-side drop-offs.

Five months on, the project is a big success. In addition to furniture and white goods like fridges and freezers, the centre now recycles cloth.

And it isn’t just inanimate objects they save from the scrapheap.

Cheryl explained: “We’re now making preparations to help more young people that are out of work gain new skills in the new year, and welcome any enquiries from people that we may be able to help.”

Refurbs Flintshire currently has five young people in salaried positions – funded through the Jobs Growth Wales scheme – as well as a Coleg Cambria student undertaking a work experience scheme.

Three of Refurbs Flintshire’s workforce of eight full time and eight part-time staff are also former Jobs Growth Wales participants.

It’s no surprise that youth unemployment has become a big  issue across the whole of Wales.

According to figures obtained by Plaid Cymru, there were 5,700 young people who had claimed Job-Seeker's allowance for longer than a solid year between 2011 and 2012.

In a competitive job market, youngsters can struggle.

Some find themselves in a tricky catch-22 situation where they need experience to get a job, but need a job to gain experience.

Schemes like Refurbs Flintshire are addressing that, and not just by offering people time-honoured manual skills.

There are also opportunities to get to grips with modern technology.

The organisation has launched a new website and enhanced its social media presence through the work of one of its Jobs Growth Wales placements.

Jacob Griffiths, 18, of Holywell, was recruited on a six-month contract to develop the company’s Twitter, Facebook and eBay accounts, as well as assisting with duties at the charity’s community store.

Jacob said: “I’ve really enjoyed working with the Refurbs team and hopefully the skills I’ve picked up here can lead to a future job within e-commerce or social media.”

Over the last five years, Refurbs Flintshire has secured contracts worth almost £1m to the local economy and provided paid work experience and training to 160 people, achieving a job outcome rate of 76 per cent.

Kallum Baxter, 22, of Mold, struggled to find a job for eight months.

The former Argoed High School pupil was made redundant early in 2013 but said his time at Refurbs Flintshire has given his job prospects and morale have been given a shot in the arm.

He said: “I went through school and sixth form and got a job as a mechanic and went on to work for a renewable energy company, where I spent two years.

“After I finished there I spent every day looking for work and would go to sleep dreaming of jobs, but I just couldn’t find anything.

“It was really demoralising as I genuinely wanted to work, but just couldn’t find any opportunities.

“I felt like I was banging my head against a brick wall.

“It’s tough and there are a lot of other people like me out there.”

But a six-month contract as an electrical assistant has given Kallum a new outlook for 2014.

He said: “Fortunately, I saw the opportunity with Refurbs and haven’t looked back since.

“It’s made a huge difference to my life. I’m learning new skills that I’m developing all the time and will hopefully help me find more work in the future."

“Working at Refurbs has made a huge difference to me. I’m fixing things that are donated to us, putting the skills I’m learning to good use.”

The ambitious youngster has also made use of his new abilities at home.

He said: “I’ve even been able to fix my washing machine at home!

“The skills I’m picking up are something I’m hoping to improve going forward. Hopefully I can make a career out of this work, and maybe work for myself one day.”

To find out more about Refurbs Flintshire, visit www.refurbs.org.uk or call 01352 734111.

Volunteering opportunities are also available at the registered charity.

For more news from across the region visit newsnorthwales.co.uk

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