A SCHEME which has created more than 5,000 training and employment opportunities in Wales has been hailed for its “positive impact” by a minister.

The success of the Welsh Government’s ‘Lift’ programme, which has exceeded its original target, was celebrated at a special event in Ebbw Vale.

Eluned Morgan, minister for Welsh language and lifelong learning, met with people who have benefited from the programme at Ysbyty Aneurin Bevan on Tuesday.

The Minister said: “It has been a pleasure to celebrate the success of Lift and to meet some of the people supported by the programme.

“It is particularly pleasing that some have moved on into employment with Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and that others are about to do the same.”

The health board has been responsible for supporting the project in both Blaenau Gwent and Caerphilly, providing around 100 opportunities.

Delivered across nine areas in Wales, Lift provided participants with dedicated one-to-one support to people facing employment barriers and who have not worked for at least six months.

Programme mentors worked with people to find out why they are not in work and provided support to help them overcome such issues.

They will keep in touch with participants for up to 12 months after they start in their new job or placement to offer continued support.

Lift met its target two months early and by the scheme’s end in December last year, had provided 5,174 training and employment opportunities, helping 1,099 people into work.

“I am delighted that Lift has exceeded its target of supporting 5,000 people into job and training opportunities,” said Ms Morgan.

“As I have seen today, the programme has had an incredibly positive impact on people’s lives, giving them the confidence, skills, experience and information they need to succeed.

“This is an excellent example of how we are working across Welsh Government departments and with many partner organisations to support people to gain skills, training and employment. I want to thank our partners in the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board for their vital contribution.”

Despite the programme ending, the learning from it will be taken forward into Communities for Walk Plus.

The £12 million a year scheme will provide intensive mentoring and support to those furthest from the jobs market from April 2018.