Cllr Jane Chitty with apprentice Nigel Wren

The council’s Employ Medway Advice Centre has helped its 600th jobseeker find work.

23-year-old Nigel Wren from Strood has been recruited as an apprentice bricklayer on the Rochester Riverside housing development and become the 600th person to find work using Employ Medway.

After searching for a job for nearly four years, Nigel was referred to the centre on Chatham High Street last October and within ten weeks had landed his new role working for Owen Contractors Ltd.

“I was always looking for a job but couldn’t seem to get one for years. In the end I didn’t think I was ever going to find work” Nigel said.

“Then my advisor at Employ Medway told me about this apprenticeship and introduced me to Zoe at the Skills and Employment Centre at Rochester Riverside.

“I really hoped I had a chance but wasn’t confident. Zoe helped me get through an interview and arranged a work trial with Owen Contractors Ltd. I always wanted to work in construction because I like being outdoors and like making things. This apprenticeship has given me a real chance to get on in life”.

Nigel’s apprenticeship will last two years during which he will be based on site and spend one day a week studying a diploma and NVQ in bricklaying at Mid Kent College, Maidstone.

To help Nigel get started he was given a set of tools worth £75 from the council’s EU funded SUCCES project.

George McAllister, Director of Owen Contractors Ltd, said: “It’s great to have an apprentice on board and we’re looking forward to showing Nigel the ropes and getting him involved in the project here at Rochester Riverside.”

The contractors will gain a £2,000 subsidy towards Nigel’s training costs as part of the council’s apprenticeship subsidy scheme, GAPs.

Funding for the £200,000 scheme, which launched last October and helps businesses with an apprentice’s wage or training costs, is split equally between Medway Council and the Interreg 2 Seas programme which is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

The council’s apprenticeship schemes have also seen more than 250 apprenticeships created at local businesses over the past year, through both the subsidy scheme and the national 100 in 100 apprenticeship campaign, which created more than 190 trainee positions.

Employ Medway Advice Centre has been open since September 2009, and as well as helping jobseekers, has also provided more than 800 people with training on basic IT, interview and CV skills.

Medway businesses can also benefit from the council’s Start-up grants and Partners for Growth loans for small firms, which to date have helped more than 250 companies.

Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Strategic Development and Economic Growth, Cllr Jane Chitty, said: “I am extremely proud that Employ Medway has now helped 600 people into work and we will continue to do all we can to help Medway residents who are looking for employment.

“We are dedicated to supporting growth in Medway to create employment and help businesses thrive and our range of business loans and grants as well as our continued commitment to apprenticeships is testimony to this.

“It’s fantastic to see people like Nigel not only finding their way into work, but also gaining valuable training opportunities that will set them on their career path for the future.”