Written by Mark Willmore - Head of Learning, Training and Employment

Earlier this week, a colleague told me about a young man Llamau had supported about ten years ago. At the time, he had experienced a relationship breakdown at home and a further relationship breakdown with his partner. He was young enough to be in school but old enough to make decisions that he felt showed he could stand on his own two feet.

I was told about a past life that could shake some of the strongest people I know, yet apparently, he talked openly and positively about how far he has come since that time.

I was made aware that he is full-time employed and very happy in his role, but he had explained to my colleague that without the experience he attained through his first full time, well-paid job, which he was able to get thanks to support from Llamau, he may not be feeling as contented with his work and his life as he is right now.

Before he secured his first full-time role, he worked in a couple of retail stores on a part-time basis, but it was this first job that opened up real opportunities for him. The new role helped teach him how to communicate with customers and colleagues, which strengthened his approach towards speaking with friends and family, allowing him to open up about his experiences that he could not talk about before.

This first job gave him purpose, structure and financial security. It taught him the importance of basic things like turning up on time for his shift and how to organise his travel times and lunch plans. In my mind, a number of things that most of us might take for granted now but no doubt, we learned those exact same qualities and skills through our own first job.

Our first job helped us into the world of work, allowing us to build values that are now woven into the fabric of who we are as individuals. It helped us to develop skills and attributes we have carried forward through many of our roles in life, not just our paid roles.

With all this in mind, imagine if you were 18 or 19, you had left school early because your family home broke down and for a while, you were homeless. Maybe this time caused difficulties with your mental health or your social circles, but now things are in a calmer place and you are ready to start your first job. However, there are no opportunities available for you. You have fallen through the gaps of the system and every job you see requires qualifications or skills you do not have yet. What would you do? 

This is why Llamau’s My First Job campaign is so important right now. The young people Llamau support are creative, resilient and tenacious individuals, with a lot to learn but also, a lot to give. They just need someone willing to give them that chance.

We know the pandemic has hit Welsh businesses hard, but we are also seeing a new world of opportunities develop in a post-Covid world. What I am asking is that people take a step back and remember how important their first job was to them and if possible to come forward and support a young person with a work placement through their business or employer, offering them the opportunity to gain skills and develop values they can take forward into a meaningful life.

Thank you!