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Serco English language service celebrates first graduates

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A group of 40 people living in Cardiff are the first graduates of Serco’s new English Language Requirement (ELR) contract in Wales.

The learners, who were supported by Serco’s delivery providers to improve their English language speaking and listening skills, received their certificates during celebratory events at their local learning centres.

Launched in December 2014, ELR is a two-year payment-by-results contract supporting people with low-level English speaking and listening skills to improve their communication skills and so help them obtain employment.

Leila, 33, is one of the first learners to achieve a qualification through ELR. She was born in Cardiff but moved to Libya with her parents when she was six. As a qualified teacher, she worked at a primary school in Libya for four years.

Leila said: “All schools were shut down due to the war. There were no jobs, no security, no life. I couldn’t stay there. In September 2014, the ambassador evacuated me, my parents and my brother back to Cardiff, as we have British passports. But my husband is still there. We’ve been married for six years. They stopped issuing passports for two years, so for now we use Skype to keep in touch.”

On improving her English language skills, Leila said: “I started my ELR course in January, as I struggled to communicate in English after all those years. I really enjoyed the course, especially the role plays, as they were similar to real-life situations. My tutor, Max, helped me a lot. She is just amazing. She makes you feel relaxed and treats you like a member of her family. I’m really grateful for the help and encouragement I received. She helped me get my confidence back.”

Commenting on life in Wales and plans for the future, Leila added: “I really enjoy it here. I know it’s funny, but I like the weather too, it’s not hot like in Libya. I just hope my husband will come here soon.

“At the moment I’m looking for jobs, but because my teaching qualification is not recognised in the UK, I’d like to go to university here to qualify as a teacher. I love teaching.”

Gareth Mathews, business director for Serco’s Welfare Services business, said: “Leila’s story demonstrates the positive impact our ELR programme can have on people’s lives. Although new, it has already made a difference to learners in improving their job prospects and leading independent lives in the UK, and we are delighted to be part of their journey.”

Serco delivers ELR on behalf of the Department for Work & Pensions through a network of local expert subcontractors. As part of the programme, learners’ skill levels are assessed and their tutors support them in improving their English by one level. On completion of the course, learners gain an accredited qualification to support their future applications for work, further education and everyday life.

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