NICK Smith MP has helped to launch a programme to give young borough talents a chance at a bright future.

Mr Smith launched the Blaenau Gwent Work Experience programme at Bedwellty House in Tredegar at an event that saw local business leaders see the benefits of offering their time.

A venture with Jobcentre Plus and Tai Calon, the programme hopes to encourage employers to offer work placements for between six and eight weeks.

With travel costs being reimbursed and the young people still able to claim their benefits, the aim is to lessen the burden on the business giving much needed experience.

Sarah Bull, 24, had been looking for work for months after finishing college, but after a work placement with Tai Calon, she is now a Purchasing and Procurement Assistant for the housing organisation.

“From someone who has taken part, it’s the best thing that could have happened to me”, she said.

“I don’t know what I’d be doing without it. I’d still be stuck in the same position, looking for work.”

Speaking after the launch, the Blaenau Gwent MP said: “We heard today from several youngsters who have found work by taking the plunge on this program, and it is inspiring.

“The line that resonated with me was ‘I went to work for one day a week, but it was the best day of the week’. If that doesn’t tell you our young people don’t want to work then nothing will convince you.

“Nearly 12% of 18-24 year olds are out of work in the borough, more than twice the national average. 230 young people in the borough have been on Jobseeker’s Allowance for more than a year.

“We have a glut of talent here and we just have to give them the chance to prove it. This is what this event is all about, and I’d urge any business interested in taking part to get involved.”

Andrew Mosely of Jobcentre Plus said:  “We were given opportunity at some point in our careers to show our potential. That’s the key for all of this. It’s about giving that opportunity and chance to achieve and do some great things.”

If you are a business interested in taking part in the scheme, contact by Friday, April 4. Please give details of your business and the type of placement you are able to offer i.e. administration assistant, production/warehouse operative, customer service advisors, IT placements.

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