The funding, was announced by Deputy Minister for Housing and Regeneration Jocelyn Davies AM while she visited JobMatch’s office in Aberdare. The Deputy Minister met Akinola Verissimo, Nikki Davies, Susan Pilkington and Jared Walters, who have all found employment through JobMatch’s Employment Routes programme at Rhondda Life, a community regeneration project that has also received funding from the Heads of the Valleys Regeneration Area to create a community facility and tourist attraction in Ferndale with the aim of creating local jobs for residents of the Rhondda Valley.
The JobMatch programme, which is backed by the European Social Fund and run by the Welsh Assembly Government in partnership with the Jobcentre plus and the five Local Authorities in the Heads of the Valleys Area, has helped over, 7500 people back to work since it was launched in 2003.
The Deputy Minister said:
“Over the last seven years JobMatch has proved that is delivering excellent value for money and bringing real benefits to the Heads of the Valleys Regeneration Area programme. As well as boosting the local economy and making a real difference to people’s lives by providing them with jobs and skills that will help them stay in employment in the long term.
“Regeneration is as much about investing in people as it is in bricks and mortar so I am delighted to announce this funding for JobMatch to enable it to carry on the excellent work it has been doing so far. It is an excellent example of what we can achieve by working together with local authorities and other organisations.”
Job Match Successes
Akinola is from Nigeria and married a Rhondda girl several years ago. Despite holding a degree in Politics from the University of Lagos he struggled to obtain suitable employment. His confidence was affected and he found it difficult to engage with groups of people which meant that he found interviews particularly difficult. He enrolled on the JobMatch progamme and found work as a Human Resources Officer at Rhondda Life. He is currently completing a HR Diploma, his confidence has improved greatly and he now communicates freely with individuals and groups. Akinola said:
“Before I joined JobMatch I found it hard to even lift my head to speak to people. I thought my English wasn’t good enough, but now I have lots of confidence and can speak to anybody.”
Nikki is a young mother with two children, who hadn’t been able to work for five years since leaving her job in a sewing company to have her first child. With average school-leaving qualifications, she had little opportunity of restarting a career path until JobMatch offered her the opportunity to work locally which helped with making childcare accessible. Nikki has completed the BELA and TMBL awards; works in reception, catering and the fitness suite at Rhondda Life and has done so well that she is now encouraging other young mums from her village to sign up with JobMatch. Nikki said:
“I thought opportunities like this weren’t for people like me but I’m doing things now that I never thought I could do. JobMatch helped me to realise that being a mum meant I had skills like budgeting and time management that I could use in a work environment. My children now have things that I couldn’t afford to give them before.”
Susan is a Ferndale resident who spent much of her life running public houses with her husband. She lost her business due to the recession and found herself unemployed so registered with JobMatch with the intention of doing something completely different. Rhondda Life being locally based and community sensitive offered Susan an unexpected chance to change her life and to look forward to learning new skills in a completely different environment from her former career. Susan’s bar and restaurant experience means that she is a valuable member of the catering and restaurant team, but she has also completed the BELA award and enjoys the local history aspect of the project. Susan said:
“As I’m the wrong side of 50, I was beginning to think that I would never work again and after being turned down for quite a few jobs, my confidence was ebbing away. Rhondda Life and JobMatch have not only given me the opportunity to work again but learn new skills and to get involved in a local project that really interests me.”
This young man has done a lot in his short life despite the difficulties associated with being virtually blind. He has a degree in media studies and has a strong interest in the history of the valleys. Despite having undertaken several work placements Jared was finding it difficult to find a permanent job until he joined JobMatch. This route offered Jared a job close to home and support to make getting to and from work easier. He works as IT and Media Officer for Rhondda Life. He has recently completed a website design course and has already restructured the organisation’s website. Jared said:
“Although I’ve never really suffered from a lack of confidence, I could feel it slipping away the longer I was out of work. Also, because of my visual impairment, I found it very difficult to try new things and wanted to stick with IT, but since starting with Rhondda Life I’ve been encouraged to try new things and learn new skills. I didn’t like dealing with the public because I find it hard to maintain eye contact and thought it would appear rude to customers, but now I’ve given it a go I enjoy it!”