A SCHEME which funds training for jobseekers is celebrating supporting its 100th person into employment.

The Employability Skills and Discretionary Fund is the biggest project to date for Great Aycliffe and Middridge Partnership (GAMP).

As well as providing money to respond to specific training needs, cash has also been invested into a Discretionary Fund, which removes barriers which can prevent people from accessing training.

The fund, which is available to unemployed people in the Newton Aycliffe area, is managed by Bishop Auckland College on GAMP's behalf.

This month, the scheme celebrated a major milestone when it helped its 100th jobseeker secure employment.

Ting Zhao, from Newton Aycliffe, is one of those who has benefited from the fund.

Mrs Zhao moved to England from China with her husband five years ago and struggled to find a job.

She said: “I have two young boys and I wanted to return to work when they moved into full time education.

“I have work experience and Chinese qualifications but they are not really recognised here. I sent out a lot of CVs and letters and only got one interview, which was unsuccessful.

“I started to feel really down and didn’t know what to do. I felt like I would never find a job here despite being a capable person who could do a lot of different jobs well.

“I contacted the National Careers Service and they put me in touch with GAMP.”

The fund allowed Mrs Zhao, 30, to brush up her maths and English skills and enrol on a teaching assistant course.

As well as securing a lunchtime assistant post at Woodham Academy in Newton Aycliffe, she is undertaking a work placement at nearby Vane Road Primary School and teaches Chinese at a Sunday school in Middlesbrough.

“I love working in schools,” said Mrs Zhao. “It is nice to think you are helping children to reach their potential and that my work is useful.

“I would like to thank the National Careers Service and GAMP for helping me to move forward and progress my career.”

Brian Riley, GAMP Coordinator, said: “This project is unique to the GAMP area and brings together a wide range of partners to address barriers to employment.

“We are encouraging unemployed people from Newton Aycliffe and Middridge who think they could obtain work through specific training to apply to the fund”.

Anyone who is unemployed and from Newton Aycliffe or Middridge, can contact Denise Hopps at Bishop Auckland College for further information on denise.hopps@bacoll.ac.uk or 01388 443078.