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Funding support helps out-of-work graduates to learn fresh skills.

UNEMPLOYED graduates are being offered funding support for professional training and education at the University of Glamorgan.

The learning voucher scheme is part of the Economic Support Initiative, financed through Higher Education Funding Council for Wales' Strategic Development Fund.

The project involves the five St David's Day Group of universities - Glamorgan, Cardiff, Swansea, Aberystwyth and Bangor - and means unemployed graduates can apply for up to 75% of funding towards course fees.

The University of Glamorgan's professional training portfolio includes accredited courses in a range of professions.

Karin Rees, who manages the Economic Support Initiative within University of Glamorgan Commercial Services, said: "This is an opportunity to help unemployed graduates to increase their employability by acquiring additional skills and qualifications, but not at the cost usually associated with professional or postgraduate training.

One successful graduate from the scheme is Steven Williams of Cardiff, who was one of the early victims of the recession.

Having graduated from the University of Gloucestershire in 1999, Mr Williams secured a place on a highly-competitive graduate scheme in business and corporate banking, and was working as a relationship manager within the property division at HBOS, when the credit crunch reached its climax.

In May 2009, Mr Williams and his colleagues were notified that their work was being transferred to Scotland and the team was being disbanded, leaving them facing redundancy within six months.

Steven said: "I can't say redundancy was a shock, as the property market had been hit so hard by the credit crunch, and that was where our work was focused. I'd never seen anything like the speed of the decline and collapse, it was unprecedented.

"Before that, the job I was in had been seen as a career for life - it was well paid and with plenty of progression, but suddenly I was facing unemployment."

Mr Williams tried to remain positive, and began looking for new jobs straight away.

He said: "I was keen to use the redundancy as an opportunity to explore new careers and project management was something that had always appealed to me, as I'd worked on various projects in my time in the banking sector and really enjoyed it.

"I looked into local courses in project management, and went to make some inquiries at UGCS, where they told me about the ESI funding for graduates in my position.

"I applied, and was awarded 75% of the cost towards a project management course. The funding made a huge difference to my situation, as it meant I could live on my redundancy money, while still training and gaining new skills, which would be attractive to a potential new employer."

Since completing qualification, Mr Williams has secured a new job with at their offices in Newport.

He said: "Redundancy is very stressful, but the ESI scheme does give graduates like me an opportunity to upskill and secure new employment."
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 18, 2010
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