Bob Wellington on Bridges into Work
More from: The Work Programme on trial
Bridges into Work was launched in January 2009 with a £10m grant from the European Social Fund, creating a new opportunity for economically inactive and unemployed people in south-east Wales.
The project aims to help people into sustained employment by providing opportunities for retraining or improving skills and qualifications.
The project is led by Torfaen CBC in partnership with the local authorities of Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Merthyr Tydfil, Rhondda Cynon Taff and the Coleg Y Cymoedd.
Since its launch, the economic situation has worsened, with Bridges into Work operating in areas where unemployment and economic inactivity were already high.
Despite this, the project has helped more than 3,700 people into employment, some of whom had almost lost hope of finding a job.
It has also helped more than 7,000 people to gain qualifications in subjects such as numeracy, literacy and ICT; and skills such as manual handling and food hygiene.
Many of those helped faced multiple barriers to gaining employment such as poor health, low self-esteem and confidence, and very often a reluctance to re-engage with learning after poor experiences in the past.
By collaborating with employers, employees and other relevant organisations Bridges into Work has developed community-based learning and training opportunities.
This ranges from personal support and pre-employment programmes tailored to individual needs through to specific work-related qualifications in sectors such as home care, construction, childcare and catering.
One of the keys to its success is the way it seamlessly dovetails with other programmes such as Want to Work, Jobcentre Plus and Communities First.
Bridges into Work is funded until December and we are working closely with Wales European funding officers to secure further funding to continue beyond that.
Bob Wellington (Lab), leader, Torfaen CBC
Councils in action: Torfaen CBC