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New Gateway to Choices service helps Belfast people get into work and training

Date: 06 Sep 2023

Category: Jobs and skills

Gateway to Choices launch

Looking for work, or a way to update your skills, can be a daunting experience, so Belfast City Council has launched a new Gateway to Choices service with the Belfast Labour Market Partnership to help residents take the next step in their employment journey.

Funded by the Department for Communities through Employability NI, Gateway to Choices (G2C) is all about supporting Belfast residents aged 18+ who aren’t currently working, but would like to find a job, return to work, or start studying. 

A free to download app and a team of trained advisors is now offering independent, tailored advice and guidance to help people find the right support to progress towards employment, education, or training. 

Speaking at the launch this morning at Belfast City Hall, Lord Mayor Councillor Ryan Murphy said: “One of the key priorities in The Belfast Agenda is getting people into work – and helping them fulfil their potential. Gateway to Choices is already making a real difference to Belfast people’s quality of life – helping them find the best support so that they can take the next step and increase their chances of getting a job or moving into a better position. 

“We’re passionate about helping people tackle barriers that might be holding them back from taking the first step on their employment journey, including mental health difficulties or addiction, by connecting them with advice services and support, including benefits and housing.  It’s a genuinely collaborative effort with all of our partners – because we know that’s the way to get results.”

Deidre Ward, Director of Work and Well-being at the Department for Communities said: “The Department is delighted to fund this programme through the Labour Market Partnership Initiative. It will help Belfast residents get the support they need to move into meaningful, long-term employment.

“GEMS NI has already engaged with around 200 residents through G2C, signposting them to appropriate support in education and training, employability and health. As a result, many have secured jobs, enrolled on a training course, or gained better work.  I hope their experiences will encourage others in Belfast to take the next step.”

Stephen Atkinson, GEMS NI Gateway to Choices Service delivery lead added: "GEMS NI is delighted to deliver the Gateway to Choices service on behalf of Belfast Labour Market Partnership and Belfast City Council. We provide impartial, high-quality information, advice, and guidance to support Belfast residents seeking employment, training, or better job opportunities. Our team of Gateway to Choices advisors focus on identifying people’s job and training interests and tailor support by identifying current skills, training and personal development opportunities, including access to assistance with any personal health and wellbeing concerns they may have. We’re committed to fostering sustainable community engagement and opening up progression pathways through the Gateway to Choices Service.  Our focus on person-centred development aligns with both individuals’ aspirations and the wider goal of strengthening the city’s workforce, ensuring a more skilled, engaged and prosperous community."

G2C is available to everyone aged 18 and over living in Belfast and currently not working, but especially those who are long-term unemployed (more than 6 months), those with barriers to work referred by the Jobs and Benefits Office, people who are out of work, but not claiming benefits - and those who are currently employed, but looking for a better, or more sustainable job.

G2C can also be accessed in a range of community centres including Ardoyne, Braniel, Divis, Donegall Pass and Woodvale.

See for more information.

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