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Kickstart job placement scheme – changing lives and benefiting businesses

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Kornelia Charkiewicz

A YOUNG woman from Carmarthenshire who spent up to four hours a day searching for employment has spoken of her delight at finally landing a job thanks to a new Kickstart scheme.

Kornelia Charkiewicz said her life was ‘stressful and frustrating’ spending hours a day trying for jobs which amounted to nothing.

But all that changed when she was put on the Kickstart scheme, run locally by Carmarthenshire County Council on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions and Jobcentre.

Kornelia is now enjoying her new role as an administrator for local construction firm Morganstone.

The Kickstart scheme funds job placements for 16 to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long term unemployment.

Local employers of any size can apply for funding to cover the cost of placements, training and employability support, National Insurance and pension contributions meaning the scheme is 100 per cent cost neutral to them.

Carmarthenshire County Council acts as the lead organisation for over 70 local employers.

It’s C4W+ (Communities for Work) team also works with eligible young people to help them gain work experience, write CVs and prepare them for job interviews.

“When I was fist told about Kickstart it sounded a bit too good to be true but when I was put into contact with them I honestly felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders,” said Kornelia.

“Life before was very stressful and frustrating. A typical day would include disappointment from the failure to get a response or interview from the day before, then spending three-four hours combing through job ads and filling out applications which would end with me getting an email back saying I was unsuccessful.

“This whole cycle lasted about a year and a half and it felt like my chances of actually getting an interview, much less a job, were nearly impossible.”

Kornelia was told about Kickstart by her local Jobcentre.

“It finally felt like someone was fighting in my corner – that help meant the world to me. Their help and encouragement never stopped, from the moment I first spoke to them to the moment I finally got my placement. They were always patient and willing to hear me out even if it was just to vent my frustrations on job hunting.”

She added: “One of the aspects which really helped was preparation for interviews – I’ve only ever had one interview so I felt a little overwhelmed, but thanks to the help of C4W+ I went on a course that was all about getting ready for employment and preparing for interviews. I was also able to do a mock interview with feedback from one of the mentors.

“This whole experience has made a massive difference to me. If not for this scheme I would most definitely still be looking for a job and feeling the negative emotions connected to it.

“Kickstart and C4W+ have really impacted my life in the best way possible and I will be forever grateful for the people I have met and the amazing opportunity I have been given.”

Kornelia’s placement employer Morganstone has also benefited from the Kickstart scheme.

Hannah Breen, Corporate Social Responsibility and Training Manager for Morganstone, said: “The future of construction lies with the generations to come but skills shortages have been a worry in the industry for many years. At Morganstone we’ve always had a passion for promoting the industry to young people and providing them with the skills and opportunities to succeed – they have so much to offer and due to the current climate many have been unable to realise their full potential, that’s why as a company we were so keen to be involved in the Kickstart scheme.

“Our Kickstart experience has been a great success already, it has allowed us to welcome great young talent into the organisation. We’d really like to thank Carmarthenshire County Council for guiding us through the Kickstart process and helping us in recruiting Kornelia – their support has been invaluable.

“Our team were so impressed with Kornelia. Right from her interview she was really enthusiastic and had a passion to succeed and make a difference. It has been great to see her grow in confidence over the past few weeks. She has fitted into the team so well and we’re excited to see how her career develops.”

Local employers and those aged 16-24 and looking for work can get information about the Kickstart scheme at www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales/kickstart

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Development Bank backs Carmarthenshire manufacturer

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MIDTEC, one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of chimney cowls and flue systems has completed the construction of 2500 square feet of additional manufacturing space at Capel Hendre Industrial Estate near Ammanford, using a £220,000 loan from the Development Bank of Wales.

Formed in 2003 by Managing Director, Trefor Jenkins, Midtec first benefitted from investment from the Development Bank in 2005.

They have since had several rounds of funding from the Development Bank to support growth plans and the next generation is looking to the future with the new additional space being used to house a state of the art ENSIS laser cutting machine, supplied by Amada.

Trefor said: “The ongoing support of the Development Bank means that we’ve been able to grow the business, drive efficiencies and invest in new market opportunities. We’ve also introduced new products including the MidCat, an innovative solution for reducing the pollution created by wood burning stoves and the only one of its kind in the UK.”

“Our latest investment in our technology means that we can now offer a laser cutting service that will help to improve our quality and production processes and save time on the turnaround of customer orders. We hope that this will play an important part in our future growth. Indeed, our turnover is on target to exceed £2 million this year and I’m delighted that my son Thomas and daughter Hannah are already playing a vital role in the business as we focus on our long-term sustainability.”

Richard Easton, a Portfolio Executive with the Development Bank, said: “Midtec is a family run and owned business that is known for its high quality and excellent customer service. With our continued support, Trefor, Thomas, Hannah and the team have created a modern manufacturing facility that has a really exciting future ahead.”

The loan came from the £204 million Wales Business Fund which is financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the Welsh Government.

Loans, mezzanine finance, and equity investments are available for deals between £50,000 and £2 million with terms ranging from one to seven years for small and medium-sized businesses (those with fewer than 250 employees) based in Wales, or willing to relocate to Wales.

Construction company TRJ of Ammanford carried out the building work, while Jamie Reynolds of Cennen Solutions has also been providing strategic support.

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Trainees are the lifeblood of south Wales accountancy firm

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ASHMOLE & CO are encouraging those qualifying from university, waiting for their GCSE or A Level results to consider a future career in accountancy. 

Trainees are the lifeblood of the accountancy firm which has offices throughout south Wales.

James Davies has been employed by Ashmole & Co since 2017 as a Trainee Accountant based in the Carmarthen office. James has steadily been progressing to becoming a fully qualified accountant whilst working with the firm full time. 

He has just recently passed his 10th exam and has just five more exams to pass until he gains his Chartered Accountancy qualification (ICAEW).

As a Trainee Accountant, day to day, James prepares financial accounts for clients, Tax returns and VAT returns for local individuals, sole traders, partnerships and limited companies.

Sharon George, Partner in the Carmarthen Ashmole & Co office, said, “It is important as a profession that we help nurture the next generation of professional accountants. Trainee staff members are the lifeblood for the future success of our firm. We are a local business and are always keen to employ those who live locally.”

James lives in Llandeilo and after gaining his A Levels at Ysgol Gyfun Tregib he gained his AAT qualifications at Coleg Sir Gar whilst working for Pritchard Jones Accountants in Carmarthen. When the firm’s director retired in 2017 the firm was taken over by Ashmole & Co and James has been employed with Ashmole & Co since. 

James said, “Providing a high-quality service to current and new clients is the most rewarding part of the job for me. Providing this reliable service allows local businesses to manage the day to day running of their business while entrusting us to manage their accounts and tax affairs. The most challenging part is the substantial changes to IT in accounting over the last decade and that will continue into the next decade. It’s important for us to keep up to date with current technologies.”

In his spare time James likes keeping physically active at the gym, running and cycling. He is a keen sports fan, especially rugby and is an avid supporter of the Scarlets rugby team.

Ashmole & Co are one of the largest chartered certified accountants in Wales. The rapidly expanding and modern firm often has job opportunities for enthusiastic individuals both qualified and non-qualified within the organisation. 

If you feel you have the qualities to be part of the team at Ashmole & Co, please email, with your CV attached, to AshmoleHR@ashmole.co.uk. Alternatively, apply for a specific vacancy listed on the website: www.ashmole.co.uk

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House prices in Carmarthenshire rise at the highest rate across west Wales

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HOUSE prices in Carmarthenshire have risen by 17.5% annually in the second quarter of 2022 (April-June) to reach a new peak price of £228,609.

The figures have been released from Principality Building Society’s Wales House Price Index for Q2 2022, which demonstrates the rise and fall in house prices in each of the 22 local authorities in Wales.

Carmarthenshire’s double digit percentage rise annually was the second highest across the whole of Wales, after Blaenau Gwent, and coupled with a strong quarterly rise of 4.7%. Ceredigion also experienced a new peak price in Q2 of £274,967 reflected in a 12.3% annual increase and 4.4% quarterly rise.

While Pembrokeshire also recorded a strong 9.9% annual increase in Q2 to £248,172, it saw a slight dip across the quarter by 2.2%.

Shaun Middleton, Head of Distribution at Principality Building Society, said: “Against the backdrop of significant cost of living pressures, with food, fuel and energy prices continuing to spiral, higher interest rates anticipated from the Bank of England, and the collapse in confidence levels across companies and households, there is a growing expectation that the wider economy will enter recession over the coming quarters. Across the UK, these cost-of living pressures have begun feeding through into lenders’ affordability calculations, whilst higher mortgage rates might affect the ability and willingness of households to borrow.

“Such changes appear modest for now, but they are cumulative in nature, and their eventual impact will be influenced by the ultimate extent of rate increases, the resilience of the jobs market and the ability of households to increase income. The housing market in Wales starts from a strong position, as prices have been steadily rising post-Covid restrictions but is not immune to these macro-economic challenges, and the likelihood is that housing demand and property price inflation will ease over the coming quarters.”

Wales continues to experience some of the strongest property price increases across the UK as the average price of a property rose to more than £240,000 for the first time. The new peak average price of £240,635 in Wales reflects an 11.5% annual increase and a 3.1% quarterly increase.

Half of local authorities reported double digit percentage price increases in Q2, with nine areas also recording new peaks. Blaenau Gwent and the Vale of Glamorgan join Carmarthenshire in reporting annual price increases of more than 15%.

Principality’s Wales House Price Index estimates there were as many as 11,900 transactions in Wales in Q2, 9% higher than in Q1 and well above corresponding levels in 2019, pre-Covid. In the second quarter of 2022, sales of detached homes are down nearly a fifth (19%) while sales of flats are up 14%.

For more information go to: http://www.principality.co.uk/mortgages/house-price-index

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