The Welsh woman who struggled to find a job helping others get employment

Dealing with medical issues as well as becoming a single mother in her 20s, Bethan Evans didn't know how she would juggle the pressures of work too.

She says she looked into childcare to enable her to go work but the cost each month made it pointless to get a job.

"For me personally, my first childcare cost for the first month was £1,400 before deductions, so seeing that before I spoke to anybody, any expert on childcare, I just thought well I'm going to go into a job to give somebody else my entire pay packet."

However, things began to change for Bethan when she found out about support from PaCE-Parents, Childcare and Employment. It is a Welsh Government and European Social Fund scheme, which helps to cover the cost of childcare to help people to get into work.

It also offers support to build confidence and help people with writing their CV and getting work experience.

Bethan benefited not only from the support PaCE was able to provide but also in being able to become an employee of the service, helping others like her find jobs too.

She says before PaCE she used to be very anxious, very socially awkward and even struggled to leave the house. But now Bethan says she's becoming the woman she wants to be.

"Right now I'm on the frontline, I'm helping people face-to-face, I'm one-to-one, I'm there, I'm getting stuck in and I love that part."

For people looking to get into work she talks about putting the steps in place to get the role you want and not being worried about the situation.

"When you think of the whole process in its entirety, it is so overwhelming but when you cut that back and you start looking at the smaller steps and you start looking at improving somebody's CV, talking about what they want to do and seeing that passion and excitement come out, that's when people see it's not daunting."

The Welsh Government is hoping to assist more people like Bethan and is now launching a £200m employability strategy.

It is being targeted at people who are disabled, from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic background, women and those with low skills.

The Jobs Growth Wales+ programme is going to be part of a range of measures, as well as the Young People’s Jobs Guarantee, to get 90% of 16-24 year olds into work by 2050.

It will replace the Welsh Government’s existing Jobs Growth Wales and Traineeship programmes. The plan is for young people to receive individualised support to help them with skills and qualifications.

Included is the aim of increasing opportunities for young people whose education may have been affected by the pandemic as well as encouraging employers to make their workplaces fairer and better for those who may be at a disadvantage.

The Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething has said he hopes it will create a fairer Wales. 

The Welsh Government also says it is set to also unveil ReAct+ -a new programme which is aiming to upskill and support young people who aren't in education, training or employment, and unemployed adults, into work.

In response to the announcements, the Welsh Conservatives said it was "about time" the Labour Government focused on the economy and criticised what it claimed was a poor economic track record.

Paul Davies MS, Shadow Minister for the Economy, said: "It is about time Labour ministers got their act together and started focussing on the economy, given they have neglected it for the last two decades.

"Under Labour, Wales has the highest business rates in Britain, the worst GVA growth since 1999 out of the UK nations and produces just 3.4% of the UK’s wealth despite having 5% of the population.

"Welsh workers are also being punished thanks to Labour’s economic failures.

"When devolution started, people in Wales and Scotland had similar weekly pay packets, but now workers in Wales take home nearly £60 less each week than their Scottish counterparts.

"Labour ministers in Cardiff Bay are often all talk and no action, so let's just hope these plans aren't more examples of that because we are talking about people's jobs and livelihoods."

See more on this story on Sharp End.