Welsh Government announces £8m in funding to extend employment support services
The Welsh Government has announced it is investing nearly £8m to continue three employment services which aim to help people rebuild their lives and get back into work.
Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, Lynne Neagle, has announced that the funding will mean the Out of Work Service and In-Work Support Service will be extended until 2025.
The Welsh Government say the initiatives help people recovering from physical, mental ill-health and substance misuse into and to remain in work and are key aspects of its Plan for Employability and Skills is to prevent people from not taking up work or falling out of employment because of a health condition
The Out of Work Service helps the most vulnerable and those furthest away from the labour market. It is specifically focused on providing long term support to people recovering from mental health or substance misuse issues.
The purpose of the service is to provide support through a national network of peer mentors who have themselves recovered from issues such as mental ill-health or substance misuse.
£1.3m of the funding will go to expanding the In-Work Support service, which provides free access to physiotherapy, psychotherapy and occupational support to people with mental and physical health conditions.
The Welsh Government says it plays a vital role in helping people to retain employment by aiming to prevent people from becoming absent from work due to a mental or physical health condition, and to help those on a sickness absence to return to work more quickly.
The services have helped people in Gwynedd, Ynys Mon, Conwy and Denbighshire in North Wales and in the Swansea Bay area and has recently been extended into the Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion areas.
First launched in August 2016, the service has helped over 4,000 people to gain a qualification or work-related certificate, helped over 2,400 people search for work, over 1,600 people into work and a further 1,700 people to increase their employment chances by completing work placements or volunteering opportunities.
60% of participants who have used this service have reported an improvement in their health since seeking advice.
Following a successful pilot, funding will be given to extend the ‘I Can Work’ Individual Placement Support project in North Wales.
The service delivers integrated health and employability support to people recovering from mental health into employment, with a particular focus on 16–24-year-olds.
Ms Neagle said: “The funding announced today will further extend three employability services that have already made a huge impact, helping people gain vital skills, confidence and in many cases qualifications and employment.
“No one should be held back due to ill-health. The three services are helping those seeking work, those in work and businesses to recognise that working environments should support people with any ill health, whether mental or physical.
“I am also pleased that the schemes will support those recovering from substance misuse to access better employment opportunities.”
Welcoming the extension of the schemes, Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, said: “The Welsh Government is determined to do all it can to help ensure nobody is left behind, nobody is held back, and everyone has the opportunity to reach their potential.
“Supporting people to stay in work, enter or progress in employment and increase their skills and employability is critical to increasing the pool of available talent, and to support people to gain fair work and progress in the Labour market.”
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