A new Belfast-based social enterprise was launched today, creating 11 full-time jobs in computer repair, upgrading and maintenance.
SY:NC, which was formed by Northern Ireland’s largest community training provider Springvale Learning, has taken long term unemployed people off benefits to equip them for a career in computers.
Its aim is to build a self-sustaining business that can provide work experience and training for up to 30 people over the next two years. The company is part of a project, which is partly financed by the European Social Fund and the Department for Employment and Learning, seeks to provide “transition through technology” by retraining people in marketable high tech skills and providing nine months experience in full time employment.
Senior Training Manager Bill Atkinson explained that SY:NC was the first social enterprise company to be founded by Springvale Learning, and if this pilot project proves successful, it is hoped to repeat it in a range of other business areas.
“The people employed by SY:NC range in age from their 20s to their 50s and have found themselves unemployed largely because of the state of the economy. They have a wealth of experience and desperately want to get back into employment,” he said.
Mr Atkinson said that all of them completed a six month computer course before being offered a temporary job with SY:NC and will now receive valuable employment experience and further training for the next nine months.
“In addition to doing the data recovery and computer repair work, they will be trained in selling and writing tenders and we are hoping that as the company grows and develops, these temporary posts will become permanent.
“For the past few weeks, the employees have been busy researching the computer repair market and setting up a new website and SY:NC is now open for business,” he added
One of the new employees, former chef Gary Downey, said he was glad to be a part of this exciting new company: “At one point of my life I thought I would never get a job again and became saddened at the thought, but now thanks to Springvale and the others involved in starting this great business I feel as though there are people out there willing to help and that with some hard work and determination something good can come from it.”
During their time employed by SY:NC all of the employees will study for their NVQ Level Two in IT Maintenance, which together with the valuable experience gained, should help them forge a career in the fast growing IT industry.
The employees are not only getting hands-on training but are also getting support from a personal development coach to help them develop their skills in searching for full time or self employment.