Journey to Work, a council work experience programme, reached a new milestone recently as it successfully placed its 200th participant.
Alex Cryer, who took the 200th spot, is currently taking part in an eight week work experience placement in Horsham District Council’s (HDC) planning department.
The programme was launched in January 2012 with a small amount of funding from the Department of Work and Pensions.
The council now offers more than 30 vacancies in various departments for people who are looking for work and claiming Job Seekers Allowance.
These placements, which can last for between two and eight weeks, offer practical on-the-job experience, whilst developing vital employability skills which can be transferred to the benefit of future employers across the district.
The council also collaborates with more than 40 other partner employers who also offer placements across a wide variety of industry sectors.
Roger Paterson (Con, Pulborough and Coldwaltham), cabinet member for the local economy, said of the scheme: “This fantastic programme has gone from strength to strength since its inception and nearly three years on, over 70 per cent of those taking part with the council or with our partners have benefitted from the opportunity by getting back into paid employment.
“This programme, which originally sought to address youth unemployment and succeeded, is now helping district residents of all ages get back into the workforce and contribute to our growing economy.”
Commenting on his HDC work experience placement, Alex Cryer said: “The Journey to Work programme has been great for me. Everyone involved at HDC has been fantastic and very supportive.
“I’m gaining new skills and experience and something up-to-date to put on my CV, all of which has given me confidence that I can get back into paid employment very soon.
“It has also given me the opportunity to gain access to a new area of work that I wouldn’t have been able to do on my own. I can’t recommend it enough.”
A statement from the council said: “HDC has developed an excellent working partnership with Job Centre Plus in Horsham and without Government backing would not have achieved this impressive impact on local employment figures.
“Unemployment is at its lowest across the district since the summer of 2008. The council is once again looking for funding to extend the programme for a fourth year.
“To take part in the Journey to Work Programme, participants have to be signing on as Jobseekers at the Job Centre in Horsham.
“The programme has recently been extended to those claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
The scheme is entirely voluntary. Participants do not get paid but continue to receive their allowances and receive reimbursement for travel costs and essential workclothing.”