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What kind of person will benefit from this?

Paul is 30 years old and unemployed. He has recently taken up a place on a Community Employment (CE) scheme. With a substantial mortgage debt and his partner expecting their first child, he needs to get back into full-time paid employment as soon as possible.

Paul graduated with a Higher Certificate in Retail Management in 2002. With jobs in plentiful supply he passed up the opportunity to progress onto the degree in Retail Services. Within weeks of finishing his course he landed a place on a graduate management training programme with a major retailer.

After a year and a half the company offered him a place on fast-track development programme geared towards developing senior managers. He bypassed the offer, choosing instead to take a year out in Australia. When he came home the company offered him a job as a supervisor in one of their smaller stores. From there he progressed to becoming store manager and eventually regional manager for three stores.

Paul developed a loyalty to the company and the lure of a generous salary with lots of benefits meant a good lifestyle and plenty of disposable income. His partner encouraged him to go back to college and do a degree so that more jobs would be open to him. When he told his employer he was thinking of returning to full-time education he was immediately offered a salary increase to stay on in the company.

Again, the attraction of financial reward was too good to pass up. But within three months the economy took a sharp turn downwards and the section of retail in which Paul's company was involved was hit hard, with several stores closing.

Paul's parent company embarked on a rationalisation programme and, in spite of his position as a regional manager, he was one of many employees offered a redundancy package and laid off. As things worsened on the employment front Paul was left with no job and huge debt having bought his house at the height of the boom.

He initially secured part-time work with a services marketing firm and some small retailers but as the economy shrank opportunities fizzled out.

As time progressed he has found it increasingly difficult to secure any work. He has applied for management positions in retail but, with the number of applicants far exceeding the number of jobs available he is getting hardly any interviews.

When he calls to ask why he is not being short-listed for the jobs he wants he is being told that there are numerous candidates with a higher level of qualifications than he has. In addition some recruiters have told him that the level of skills he developed with his employer of six years is not competitive when compared with that of other applicants.

Knowing his background, the co-ordinator of his CE scheme has recommended he apply for the Bachelor of Business Studies (BBS) in Procurement and Supply Management offered under the Springboard scheme.

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With his background in retail this qualification will help to make him much more marketable for jobs in this emerging area where skills shortages have been identified. In addition, securing a degree will mean he will be in a position to apply for jobs where that is the minimum educational level required.

Paul is currently eligible for Jobseekers Benefit and his local employment facilitator has told him that under Part-Time Education Option (PTEO), he will still be able to retain this benefit if he secures a place on this Springboard course.

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