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Council scheme aims to open doors to the jobs market

Hundreds of people are getting their foot on the career ladder thanks to a scheme delivered by Staffordshire County Council.

The Open Door programme, which was introduced in 2009, helps prepare people for the world of work by offering them a twelve week work experience placement. So far, over 350 people from across the county have already benefited from the programme.

The scheme focuses on helping people who face difficulties in finding work, and includes people with disabilities, ex offenders, children leaving care, school leavers, and graduates.

One person who has benefited from the scheme is 22 year old Laura Tongs. Laura started her placement with the Council’s Trading Standards Community Safety Team and is now an Enforcement Officer working across the county.

Laura said:

“I have always had a keen interest in Law and Enforcement so the work done by Trading Standards is exactly what I have been looking for in a career. When I was 16 I was one of the Underage Sales Volunteers for Staffordshire Trading Standards, something which I really enjoyed doing, so during my university summer breaks I returned to carry out some voluntary work experience.

“I found out about the Open Door scheme when I finished my Law degree at Staffordshire University and it seemed like the ideal way to get some experience in the career I wanted. During my placement I was able to get involved in a number of enforcement and investigations, such as handling evidence; delivering alcohol awareness sessions at schools; and giving advice regarding Age Restricted Sales to off-licences, and assisting in the seizure of suspected illicit alcohol.

I really enjoyed the variety of work I was doing and when a post was advertised for an Enforcement Officer within this team I applied straightaway. And, following the job interviews I was absolutely delighted to be offered the position.

“I am very lucky to be in a position where I love coming to work each day and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities that Open Door has given me. I would definitely encourage others looking to get their foot on the career ladder to check it out.”

Staffordshire County Councillor, Ben Adams, Cabinet Member for Learning and Skills said:

“A key priority for us as a Council is to ensure that people get the opportunity to access good quality jobs and that we have a skilled workforce to grow our economy. This is a vital part of our strategy to bring growth and prosperity to Staffordshire and Laura is a good example of how our scheme is helping to do this.

“Our Open Door project is a great scheme that offers people a twelve week voluntary work experience placement within a wide variety of job roles. The scheme which we launched four years ago has already helped over 350 people, with some securing full time employment.”

The scheme provides work placements within Council departments and also with external organisations depending on the persons preferred area of work. During the placement people get valuable work experience which they can put on their CV, a reference from their manager, as well as access to certain training courses. People also get the opportunity to apply for any internally advertised jobs with the Council.

For further information on the Open Door Staffordshire scheme please contact Vicky Perry on 01785 854486 or email Vicky.Perry@staffordshire.gov.uk

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