A CRANE operator is advising the growing number of redundant workers across Wales to take full advantage of the support available to them and retrain.

Malcolm Sewell, 41, speaks from experience because in 2006 he was one of more than 200 workers made redundant by Iceland Frozen Foods.

After being a heavy goods vehicle driver for the company for five years, he found himself out of work for the first time and fancied a career change.

Through the Welsh Assembly Government’s ReAct redundancy action scheme, Malcolm met a Careers Wales adviser who suggested he consider retraining to operate mobile cranes, as there was a shortage of skilled workers.

He took the advice and enrolled on a course, funded by ReAct, to obtain his Construction Plan Competence Scheme card.

Soon after completing the course, he was offered a job with Bryn Thomas Crane Hire, which has bases in Flint and Plymouth.

He now operates a 25-tonne truck mounted crane on construction sites across the country.

Supported by the European Social Fund, ReAct offers a package of support to help redundant workers gain new skills, overcome obstacles and improve their chances of returning to work.

The support includes a recruitment subsidy for employers of up to £2,080 and job-related training up to £1,000.

Malcolm, of Connah’s Quay in Deeside, said: “Without doubt ReAct provided me with the best opportunity I have had in 20 years. At the time I was made redundant I was feeling pretty disillusioned about driving and my intention was to retrain for the construction industry.

“It was the Careers Wales adviser who suggested retraining to become a mobile crane driver, as he said I already had half the skills needed for the job. I took the course in September and started work in November.

“It was the first time I had received any help with training and it came at just the right time for me.”

Apart from the training support, he said the ReAct scheme also provides a recruitment subsidy incentive to prospective employers.

Malcolm’s advice to redundant workers in Wales who are now looking for new jobs is: “Whatever you do, don’t waste the chance to retrain to do something you are interested in. “If you are trying to change career direction, then ReAct offers you the best opportunity.”