A HARTLEPOOL mum who sprung back into work thanks to an innovative employment scheme is celebrating a year in the job.
Vicki Baker landed a customer service role at trade retailer The Tool Station after successfully completing The Leapfrog Programme.
The project helps medium and long-term unemployed people back into work by re-acquainting them with skills such as time-keeping, teamwork and customer service.
Vicki is one of dozens of North East people who have secured work via Leapfrog in a variety of sectors, from retail and hospitality, to waste management and manufacturing.
The scheme has been developed by training organisation Amacus and is supported by JobCentre Plus.
Vicki, 28, said: “The Leapfrog programme really improved my confidence and the one-to-one support was invaluable, giving me the boost I needed to kick-start my future. There was a time I would have been incredibly nervous about attending a job interview but I felt so comfortable after being guided through the process.
“All I needed to do was relax, try my best and a few hours later I was offered the job.’’
Organisers say Leapfrog candidates are signposted to the programme via JobCentre Plus and carry out a range of personal development modules, employability skills as well as “sector-specific” training and qualifications.
That can include manual handling, health and safety and food hygiene, with some spending a day at their prospective workplace to get a hands-on feel for the job.
They are also given advice on CV writing, applying for jobs and one-on-one mock job interviews. It was this particular scenario that helped Vicki secure a permanent job on the trade counter of DIY retailer The Tool Station.
Vicki, who has a seven-year-old son called Oliver, now works three days a week at the Stockton-branch.
Vicki said: “The mock interview was brilliant, it really helped calm my nerves and get the job. But all of the advice I received from the Leapfrog advisers was fantastic, everything was so thorough and supportive.
“I had worked previously in retail but was struggling to get a job or even an interview and that was knocking my confidence and self-esteem.
“But I heard about the Leapfrog programme and that was the turning point, it really got me through some difficult times and I have never looked back.” Several North East employers have taken advantage of the scheme including Hartlepool-based waste management company J & B Recycling which recruited 13 new staff and The Croxdale Inn, in County Durham, where eight people were offered positions at the hotel.
Christine Hall, managing director of Amacus, said: “Vicki is a great example of someone who has really benefitted from the Leapfrog programme, it had a very positive effect on her self-confidence and personal resilience.
“The Leapfrog programme is not just about training for training’s sake, it’s about real opportunities, working with both employers and Job Centre Plus to identify the right candidates to receive dedicated support and training with the possibility of a real job at the end of it.”
For more information, visit www.amacusltd.co.uk or call Amacus head office on (01429) 890071.