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I must admit, before I clicked on the Careers Wales website, I had never heard of Jobs Growth Wales. I happened to be looking on the ‘Jobs in Wales’ section just after I had finished my degree in the hope of finding something I could apply for and it was then I spotted a job with the Bevan Foundation. I’d heard about the Bevan Foundation during my time at university and as the position was for a Research Assistant, I was really excited when I applied.
What, then, is Jobs Growth Wales exactly? Well, quite simply, it is a governmental response to the serious problem of unemployment in Wales. It was established in April 2012 and is directly targeted at people between the ages of 16-24 who have left education or training and are unemployed or working less than 16 hours per week.
The Welsh Government aims to create around 4000 jobs per year and so far, take up of these positions has been quite successful with over 2000 young people seizing the opportunity in the first seven months of the scheme.
The basic idea of Jobs Growth Wales is to provide a six month work placement within a company, allowing the individual to become a fully fledged member of staff within this time. The position is entirely funded, including national insurance contributions, for this six month period allowing the successful candidate to earn the national minimum wage for anywhere between 20-40 hours per week.
In terms of applying for the job, the process was fairly straight forward. It is done through the Careers Wales website and there is a process of establishing your eligibility for the scheme through 12 initial questions. Then you are asked to fill out an online application form and send a CV via Careers Wales which will be seen by the employer. As with most job applications these days, everything is very digital and it is likely that those chosen for interview will have no prior contact with the employer before the interview date itself. Also, in my case when I applied, it wasn’t entirely clear whether the Bevan Foundation had received my CV after I had uploaded it to the website but everything seemed to run smoothly and I was given all the necessary information to prepare for the interview.
For the employer, it is designed to boost the workforce of organisations across Wales and benefits those in particular who may be looking to recruit but are restricted by financial issues. It enables them to take on individuals who are desperately seeking work and use their skills and resources within their organisation.
Sustainability is a key issue in this case as the work placement lasts six months and the goal for Jobs Growth Wales is to keep the people recruited in work. Given that the government is placing £25 million per year aside for the term of office, how feasible it will be to keep people in work will remain to be seen but Jobs Growth Wales intends to provide additional support for both the employer and employee once the six months are over.
In my experience, it has meant that I not only get some vital work experience in an organisation that I believe in but also, I have got my first foot on the career ladder doing something directly relevant to my degree. I, like many other people, have been given the much appreciated opportunity to enter the world of work after many months of worrying about what would happen once my degree was finished.
Cath Davies is Research Assistant at the Bevan Foundation