A local dad has spoken of his joy at being the 500th person helped into work by the East Cleveland Training and Employment Hub.
Mark Playforth, 50, had heard about the employment hub, located in Skinningrove, through a friend of a friend after experiencing five years of unemployment.
Now Mark is celebrating after landing a job as a HGV driver at PD Ports, something he has always wanted to do.
“I was tired of being on benefits and I wanted to make wife and kids proud,” explained Mark, “I wanted my kids to be able to go to school and when they were asked about what their dad does for a living, they could say, ‘he is a lorry driver’.
“I’ve always wanted to do HGV driving, so I was over the moon when I found out I’d got the job.”
Mark used to be a self-employed removal man before his long period of unemployment. He became desperate for a job and called Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council, who referred him to the Hub where he could get assistance with interviews, CV writing and help with co-ordinating the interview.
He explained: “The Hub was fantastic, they pushed me for everything. I was stuck in a rut for a long time, and it can really affect your confidence. But the people at the hub encourage you, they tell you, ‘you can do it if you put your mind to it’. They even helped me with hi-vis clothing and boots.
“If you don’t know where to start, start with them; they help you from beginning to the very end.”
Councillor Wayne Davies, Cabinet Member for Economic Development at the council, said: “We’re so pleased for Mark. Picking up the phone and taking that initial step can sometimes be scary, especially if you have been unemployed for a long time.
“Mark worked extremely hard doing the necessary driving courses, and putting the effort into interview preparation, even when his confidence was low. It’s a team effort, and he certainly deserves his success.
“It’s also a fantastic achievement that the East Cleveland Training and Employment Hub has helped 500 people find employment. The hub provides our residents with advice and guidance, access to training organisations and prospective employers with the ultimate ambition to reduce unemployment in the region. Here’s to the next 500.”
Group HR Director Russell McCallion from PD Ports said: “Over the last two years we have worked closely with Redcar and Cleveland Council and Teesside LGV Training to support the region’s long-term unemployed back into full time work as part of a national Government-lead scheme.
“The programme, which has now seen over 500 people placed into a permanent job role in the Tees Valley, has led to the permanent employment of two new full time HGV Drivers in our transport team based at Teesport.”
The East Cleveland Training Hub provides training and career advice for local people. The hub is supported by East Cleveland Villages Big Local and is part-funded by Sirius Minerals and delivered by Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council, in partnership with Job Centre Plus.
The Hub has recently introduced a new programme of courses for the coming year and continues to offer one-to-one guidance and advertise new vacancies with perspective employers.