41 year old Owain Jones had been unemployed for 20 years. After finishing school he went on to study at university, and after completing his 2nd year his health deteriorated and he began suffering with severe anxiety and depression. His health became worse and his condition left him with no confidence and struggling to leave his home.
Owain really wanted to improve his situation so he began teaching himself computer programming, hardware installation and troubleshooting to enhance his skills. He also began reading into cognitive behaviour therapy and how he could adapt this to his own situation, he started pushing himself to leave the house.
In July 2016 Owain was referred to Workways+ by his local Communities First team. He was assigned a personal mentor who worked with Owain to build his confidence and help become work ready. When Owain felt ready he did a few work experience placements, which led onto to a 3 month paid work opportunity with 4 Colour Digital, digital printing specialists based in Port Talbot.
Owain flourished in his new role, he was not just learning new skills in the workplace but he was using the programming skills he had learnt to help expand the company’s products and services. After his placement a vacancy became available and he is now in fulltime employment and has never been happier.
Owain said: "Having a job has made a big difference. I’ve got more confidence and enjoy getting up and going to work doing something I love. I am using my programming skills to develop new products in the company. If I hadn’t had help from Workways+, I wouldn’t have had this opportunity. I am so much happier now and my anxiety levels have reduced considerably. "
Geraint, Director at 4 Colour Digital said “Owain originally joined us on a placement as an Admin Assistant, but it was clear after a few days of him working with us that he was very talented. The only way I describe it was, having Owain in an admin role was like having a Formula 1 driver, driving a milk float. We quickly realised Owain’s potential and that he was going to be a fantastic asset to the team. We are now able to focus more on the IT side of the company with Owain being the experienced driving force helping the business expand.”
Gareth Nutt, Director of Environment for Neath Port Talbot Council, said: “Owain’s story is a perfect example of the amazing potential which many people can realise when given the right type of support. Owain had taken some really positive steps following a long period of unemployment and the strong links that the Workways+ programme has with local businesses enabled him to take the next step and gain vital work experience. I would like to congratulate Owain on his success and wish him all the best in his future career.”
Workways+ is backed by £7.5m of EU funds through the Welsh Government. The project is led by Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council in collaboration with Swansea, Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion Councils.