Jobs Growth Wales gives Bangor graduate first step on career ladder

A Bangor University graduate who considered moving to England or Scotland after struggling to find work has credited youth employment programme Jobs Growth Wales for giving him the first step on the career ladder close to home.

Curtis Edwards, aged 24, from Maesgeirchen, Bangor, graduated with a first-class degree in Computer Systems Engineering in the summer of 2016. It wasn’t until September 2017 that he landed his first job – with Risc IT Solutions, in Llandudno, Conwy.

Gaining experience through Jobs Growth Wales

"Jobs Growth Wales has allowed me to gain the experience I need and pursue my career locally"

Curtis, an IT technician who works in the technical support department at Risc IT Solutions, says: “I’ve been interested in computing all my life. My dad works in this industry as well so we always had computers and games consoles and spare computer parts around the house.

“After graduating I took some time off, until Christmas 2016, as with A-Levels and my four-year degree course, I’d done six years straight of full-time education. I started looking for work in January 2017

“I had 15 to 20 call-backs from places I’d applied to but they all wanted a year or two of experience which I obviously didn’t have. I applied to many more jobs where I didn’t hear back at all. I did secure two interviews but it didn’t work out.

“I wanted to stay in north west Wales but by the time I applied to Risc IT Solutions, it was getting to the point where I thought ‘if I don’t get this job I might as well sleep on my friends’ sofas in Manchester or Glasgow and try my luck there'.” 

Opening doors to opportunity

Fortunately, Curtis did secure the Jobs Growth Wales role as a trainee IT technician at Risc IT Solutions. And he impressed so much that just three months into the six-month programme, he was told he would be taken on permanently.

Curtis adds: “For me, Jobs Growth Wales has been beneficial as it has allowed me gain the work experience I need and pursue my career locally.

“I’ve been given the opportunity to go to webinars and attend training in Stoke. And there are more opportunities for training and getting more qualifications.”

Jobs Growth Wales building skills

Risc IT Solutions helps companies work smarter by providing the right IT solutions to their business challenges. The company was founded in 2001 and now has 18 employees, including directors.

Jeremy Keane, managing director, says: “As a growing business trying to rationalise costs, Jobs Growth Wales makes sense due to the funding element and continuous support from the external training providers.

“Jobs Growth Wales is also an easy way to recruit new staff into the business. We’ve had three employees to date through the scheme and all have stayed with us. The lack of on-the-jobs experienced for someone as highly qualified as Curtis isn’t a barrier. We provide training and all we require is a person that has the intelligence and background to implement that knowledge.”

Being able to add to North Wales growing “tech bubble” is also important, says Mr Keane.

“One of our core values is supporting the local economy. I’ve had conversations with local universities, including those just over the border in Manchester and Liverpool, about pointing talent back this way instead of to cities down south.

“We have a tech bubble here in north Wales and that’s not limited to entry-level positions but senior roles too. For example, we recruited our head of marketing from London. He was from this area and wanted to move back. We also have a director who moved from Microsoft to join us.

“We recruited our first Jobs Growth Wales employee, Sean , three years ago. He graduated with a first-class degree in digital marketing. He studied in Scotland and wanted to move back to north Wales but struggled to find work. He’s now a marketing account manager with us.”

Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning, Eluned Morgan, said: “Jobs Growth Wales provides the perfect opportunity for work-ready 16-24-year-olds to kick start their careers while benefiting from gaining valuable experience in a paid job. The programme not only gives young people the chance to learn and develop vital employability skills but also gives them that all-important first step on the career ladder. “The Welsh Government is committed to ensuring our skills and employability programmes support young people like Curtis in their efforts to find fulfilling work, while also giving companies across Wales the opportunity to survive, thrive and expand.”

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