An organisation fighting for the rights of disabled people in Wales is supporting a Welsh Government campaign to raise awareness of the wide range of recruitment and training support available to businesses to help them recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Disability Wales is striving to achieve rights, equality and independent living of disabled people in Wales. A pan-Wales organisation, operating as a team of eight from the office in Caerphilly, the organisation has found the GoWales scheme to be an ideal way of bringing new skills and experience to its team.
Jody Mellor, programme officer at Disability Wales, said:
“Over the past three years we’ve hosted 11 students from different Welsh universities through GoWales. As a disabled person’s organisation, we wanted to create more opportunities for young disabled people in Wales to gain work experience, so we wanted to offer placements to disabled students in particular. Around 75% of those we’ve hosted have been disabled students, and over the years we’ve offered placements to a wide range of students from different backgrounds with varying interests and skills.”
Through GoWales, businesses work closely with advisers to design quality work experience placements for university students that also benefit their business. Students are prepared for work ahead of the placement and all their expenses are covered by the programme.
Businesses can access GoWales and other Welsh Government funded training and recruitment support to help them grow and invest in their workforce through Skills Gateway. Welsh Government has launched the ‘We’re in Your Corner’ campaign to make sure businesses in Wales are aware of the support that is available to them so they can access the right programme for their needs.
“We’ve found GoWales to be a fantastic way of bringing different skills into our team which we wouldn’t otherwise have been able to access. We were able to bring in Welsh speakers when we didn’t have any working with us. We’ve had students studying data analysis and STEM subjects all the way through to creative subjects like communications and illustration join our team for varying periods of time. We still use the illustrations one of our students created to help us get our messaging out to disabled people and we’ve continued to work with some of those students as consultants, employees or volunteers.
“We work closely with the GoWales advisers at each of the universities to develop a work plan for each student’s placement that fits with their interests and what they want to get out of the experience, as well as our needs. The adviser helps organise the placement, prepares each student to enter the workplace and the students’ expenses are paid through the programme. That takes the pressure off us, so we can focus on the placement itself and making sure that both the student and Disability Wales as an organisation get the most out of their time with us.
“The placements are really flexible, which is essential for our disabled students whose impairments might mean it’s more difficult for them to commit to working a full day or week at a stretch. That flexibility also made it easy for us to move the placements online when our team began working virtually at the start of the pandemic.
“We’ve had a lot of success with GoWales and would certainly urge other businesses to research whether it, or any of the other available Welsh Government programmes, could be a good option for them.”
To support the Welsh economy in recovering from the impact of COVID-19, Welsh Government is investing in jobs and training to help businesses survive and grow, and to meet the needs of Wales’ changing economic landscape.
Economy, Transport and North Wales Minister Ken Skates said:
“The past 12 months will have been the most challenging many of us have ever faced. It’s vital that businesses know the Welsh Government is in their corner, and that support is available for those who need it.
“Our package of business support is the most generous support package in the UK. It has seen more than £2bn made available to businesses across Wales, protecting thousands of firms and many more jobs.
“We are also investing £40m in our Covid Commitment to provide free and subsidised training, grants to enable businesses to bring in the new talent and skills, and expert advice from Business Wales advisers who can recommend training and recruitment support tailored to individual business needs. This has been crucial in incentivising employers to recruit and retain 5,000 apprentices.
“As we continue to navigate these difficult and uncertain times, we will do all we can to back Welsh businesses and workers. This includes planning for what comes next. I have launched a new Economic Resilience and Reconstruction Mission which offers grounded optimism for the future and will help our people, businesses and communities to succeed and flourish amid a backdrop of incredibly challenging circumstances.
“I know that we can succeed in building a prosperous and fair economy and future that works better for everyone.”