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The Welsh Government’s Better Jobs Closer to Home initiative restimulates clothing manufacturing in Wales.

First published:
12 May 2020
Last updated:

ELITE Clothing Solutions (ECS) is a clothing manufacturer and social enterprise based in Ebbw Vale, producing garments for the public and private sector including branded uniforms and PPE.

The company was founded in September 2019, after receiving £405,000 through a grant competition as part of the first pilot of the Welsh Government’s Better Jobs Closer to Home initiative to re-stimulate clothing manufacturing in Wales.

Since opening, the factory has employed 10 individuals and taken on 7 trainees with varying needs. As it grows, ECS will continue to offer varied opportunities for people from the local area who are struggling to find employment and help them gain the skills and experience they need to get into work.

ECS is also helping to revive the clothing manufacturing industry in Wales by encouraging businesses to procure locally instead of sourcing from factories overseas. Many of the permanent employees helping to train new recruits at ECS have a lifetime of sector experience, having previously worked in local clothing factories which closed following the decline of manufacturing in South Wales.

As well as offering on-the-job training, ECS offers employment advice to those in the community through dedicated employment advisors, who get to know each individual and provide tailored support to get them work-ready; from interview tips to helping them use public transport for the first time.

Jonathan Lloyd, 58, from Tredegar joined ECS in February 2020 after being unemployed for 18 months and is training as an employment advisor. He said:

“I worked in the retail sector for 33 years before being made redundant. I knew I didn’t want to work in retail anymore, but I hadn’t looked for a job in 3 decades and didn’t know where to start. After volunteering for local charities, I realised I wanted to do a job where I was helping others. With support from Bridges into Work, an initiative to help people living in the South Wales Valleys into employment, I found and applied for the role at ECS.

“The company has a genuine passion to help disabled people and those from disadvantaged backgrounds into work. Having been unemployed myself, I know how frustrating it can be and the difference a helping hand can make. I love the job, I’m learning new skills every day and I wish I’d moved into this kind of work 10 years ago. I’ve met some really amazing and inspiring people, I’m looking forward to seeing them through their journey from start to finish and helping them find a career they love.”

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