RECENTLY I paid a visit to the Penarth Town Council offices and it gave me an opportunity to see first hand not only the work and the services that the town council provide but also saw the Welsh Government’s Jobs Growth Wales scheme in action.

It was here that I met Lauren and Robert who had both been offered a paid job opportunity for a six month period through Jobs Growth Wales. A large number of Jobs Growth Wales job opportunities are sustained by the host employer after the six month period has completed. Jobs created must be additional to, and not replace, positions that would otherwise be filled. Lauren and Robert have both been kept on after their initial six month placement. Though in this instance the programme was working in partnership with Penarth Town Council, the majority of jobs created by Jobs Growth Wales are created in the private sector.

As of last month, over 10,000 job opportunities have now been filled through the programme. 82 per cent of young people in the private sector have progressed into sustained employment or further learning upon completing their six month job opportunity. We’ve also seen an incredible 93 per cent of graduates at the end of their 6 month job opportunity progressing into employment or further learning. In addition, the programme has helped young entrepreneurs create 276 new businesses.

These are outstanding figures. I’m extremely proud of what the Welsh Labour Government has achieved and, make no mistake, it is young people and employers who have benefitted from this programme. This hasn’t happened by accident. Young people are finding work and learning opportunities as a result of the choices made by our Welsh Labour Government. I hope that a future UK Government will do something similar across the UK.

This programme is making a significant difference to young people’s lives, giving them the relevant skills and experience they need to move into sustained employment. Jobs Growth Wales is offering young people a way out of unemployment helping them avoid the damaging social and personal costs of prolonged periods spent out of work in their early adult life.

I was very impressed with Lauren and Robert and I was especially interested to hear first hand from people taking part in Jobs Growth Wales about whether it had made a difference for them and the employer. It is clear that they have both added real value to Penarth Town Council and their Jobs Growth Wales experience has already led to further employment. They were also able to explain that similar opportunities do not exist in England. I'm very proud that Jobs Growth Wales is a success and that we are investing in people like Lauren and Robert.