Seven young people from Pembrokeshire received a nationally-recognised qualification as part of a new local initiative to improve employability.

Sodexo partnered with the Pembrokeshire Youth department at Pembrokeshire County Council and 14 Signal Regiment at Cawdor Barracks, Brawdy, to offer ‘Delivering the difference for a better tomorrow’.

Young people aged 16 to 21 who are not in education, employment or training took the three-week course at Cawdor Barracks, where Sodexo provides a range of facilities management services to the Ministry of Defence.

Job interview skills and CV writing were taught on the programme, before participants undertook two weeks of work experience in various roles at the barracks with Sodexo, including catering, hospitality, retail and leisure.

Successful participants were awarded accreditation from Agored Cymru in Skills Development.

Karen Roulston, operations support manager at Sodexo Defence, said: “The programme is an excellent initiative that reflects Sodexo’s commitment to improving quality of life in the communities in which we operate. Sodexo provides a wide range of services to the Ministry of Defence, which puts us in an excellent position to offer valuable experience in a number of sectors, while supporting young people with mentoring and training. We have received tremendous support from the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Purves, and the Quartermaster Major Burdge in allowing this programme to be hosted at Cawdor Barracks.”

Heidi Holland, Targeted Youth Work co-ordinator for Pembrokeshire County Council, said: “This innovative programme presents a unique opportunity to sample several areas of employment whilst developing skills, knowledge and confidence for young people in Pembrokeshire. To be able to work in collaboration with Sodexo and 14 Signal Regiment on-site at Cawdor Barracks to deliver this programme will ensure that the experience is realistic for young people and will encourage them to be aware and take advantage of the opportunities in Pembrokeshire with support from youth workers.”

Dan Martin, a 19-year-old from Johnston who took part in the course, said: “It’s been absolutely fantastic and one of the best things I’ve done in my life. I finished college last year with a diploma in IT and since then I’ve been looking for a job. My youth worker trustee mentioned this opportunity to me and I signed up. On the first week we did a bit of everything, working in the sergeants’ mess, officers’ mess, cleaning and kitchens, to get an idea of what we enjoyed the most. I chose cleaning because I really liked the manager and the team.”

Melissa Murphy, a 19-year-old from Fishguard, who took part in the course, said: “My outreach worker told me about the opportunity and asked if I’d like to go. It was really good and I really enjoyed it. When we first got here we did a lot of paperwork around looking for work. In the second week we had a go at everything, like working in the shop and café. In the third week we got to choose where we most like working. I chose ‘The HUB’ restaurant, I really enjoyed working there, the staff were really helpful and great to work with. I think now I’m more confident to go out and look for work.”

Councillor Sue Perkins, Pembrokeshire County Council cabinet member for Education and Safeguarding, said: “We are very heartened by the success of this initiative, and understand that as a result of it, three of the young people have already been offered employment which is fantastic news.

“Youth workers at Pembrokeshire County Council have supported the young people through the application process and the programme, and they will continue to support them and access opportunities for the remainder of the group.

“It is hoped that another similar programme will take place next year on a bigger scale.”

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