Wolverhampton residents have been getting a taste of army life as part of a unique programme to help improve their employment opportunities. City of Wolverhampton Council joined forces with Army Careers, City of Wolverhampton College and the Department of Works & Pensions (DWP) to put together a four-week army course. The aim was to help residents overcome barriers to employment and to get a feel for life in the British Regular & Reserved Armed Forces.

Seven trainees received one-to-one coaching and mentoring support, and employability and personal development skills. They learnt about army life, the recruitment process and assessments they need to pass in order to sign up.

The trainees also attended a two-day residential at Nescliffe Army Camp in Shropshire and a mock assessment activity day in Stafford.

To improve the chances of the trainees finding employment they also had an opportunity to undertake work-related courses provided by the City of Wolverhampton College and gain two weeks’ work experience with a local employer in fields such as customer service, warehousing, hospitality and retail.

Fittingly, they this week celebrated their achievements at the Army Careers office in Queen Street, Wolverhampton, ahead of Armed Forces Day this Saturday.

Councillor John Reynolds, Cabinet Member City Economy, said: “The economic inclusion team within the City of Wolverhampton Council works across the priority areas to help local unemployed residents gain the skills, experience and confidence to move into employment.

“Working in partnership with the local Army Careers office, City of Wolverhampton College and the DWP, this project has helped a diverse range of local people to overcome their individual barriers to try and move forward with confidence into the world of work.”

Lt Col Richard Jones, added: “The army taster programme has been a great success with the majority of candidates expressing an interest in joining either the Army Reserves or Regular Army.

“The trainees will be supported to find work as part of the Armed Forces Employment Pathway (AFEP).

“The next step is the seven-day Exercise Industry Challenge from October 17 to 23, at Swynnerton Camp, Staffordshire, and they are all signed up and looking forward to it.

“As a result of the success of this programme we are keen to replicate this model across the West Midlands.”

Melanie Harrison, who completed the programme, said: “As a result of the army taster programme I have definitely gained in confidence and feel my chances of finding work have been vastly improved.

“I am looking forward to applying for the Army Reserves and taking part in the Armed Forces Employment Pathway.”

The project also forms part of the Armed Forces Community Covenant, which aims to encourage all citizens to support the local Armed Forces community and make it easier for Service personnel, families and veterans to access the help and support they need.