People who lost their jobs due to the economic impact of Covid are among 63 Glasgow recruits learning new skills on an employability course.
Sales manager, Paul Cowden of Oatlands, Glasgow, was made redundant, from a firm supplying water and coffee to offices, when furlough ended.
But after joining the Citymakers programme at Glasgow City Council in September 2022, he now views the life-changing event as a blessing in disguise.
The six month Citymakers training course equips participants with new skills and experience to boost their employability while also earning a wage. Managed by Jobs and Business Glasgow with support from Glasgow City Council, the employability training has been running for several years and has proved a life-line for people who lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
Paul (aged 38) said: "I'd worked since I was 16, so when I was unemployed after Covid, it was boring and monotonous. I was climbing the walls, but I've landed on my feet with this course. Lockdown gave me a chance to take stock and reflect on what I actually want to do.
"Personally, for me this course has made me realise that I want to work outdoors, rather than being in an office environment or driving miles all the time. I enjoy working with my hands and seeing the transformation in an area after we've worked on.
"This is the only job I've had where I wake up on Monday morning looking forward to work."
Peter Fraser (57) of Knightswood had his own business making lamps before Covid struck, but the shops he supplied closed during the pandemic and sales plummeted.
He said: "Because of my age it was difficult to get work after that. It was soul destroying applying for jobs and continually getting rejected.
"I've a strong work ethic and on this course, I've learned skills like using large machinery. I like being outdoors and couldn't work in an office. We cut back hedges and give areas a general tidy up. It's handy for me too, as my team's based near where I live."
Skills learned on the Citymakers course can help people gain permanent employment with the council and other employers.
Paul Campbell (57) of Bridgeton landed a permanent role with Glasgow City Council after taking part in an earlier Citymakers course.
He worked as a carer for 20 years and struggled to get another job after leaving that role. While unemployed for two years, Paul volunteered at a charity shop, but that was cut short by lockdown. After repeatedly applying for jobs and being disappointed, Paul successfully applied to be a Citymaker. And after completing the course in March 22, he was thrilled to gain a permanent post.
Paul said: "It's a pleasure coming to work. I like working outside and the physical aspect of the job. It gets me up and I'm out in the fresh air, getting exercise. I'm working with good people, we're a close knit team and we look after each other.
"It's physical work, but it's rewarding. It's totally different to what I did before, and it's been a really positive change for me."
People who successfully complete the Citymakers course will be able to apply for permanent positions within the council's cleansing department which are due to be advertised soon.
Councillor Ruairi Kelly, Glasgow's Convener for Neighbourhood Services and Assets, said: "The benefits of the Citymakers programme are two-fold, it benefits communities who see improvements in their local area, and also helps participants improve their prospects whether they are changing careers or have been unemployed for a while.
"It's really encouraging to hear participants speak so positively about their experiences and the new skills they are acquiring on the course. It puts participants in a good position when permanent opportunities arise at the council."
Citymakers gives opportunities to people who are jobless, but ready for work, a chance to gain paid employment and learn new skills alongside the council's parks and streetscene teams. The project sees small teams clearing and enhancing areas of the city that are not included in the council's regular work programme, such as gap sites, paths unadopted by the council and areas where ownership is unclear.
Jobs and Business Glasgow received funding for the Citymakers programme as part of the Scottish Government's commitment to No One Left Behind. The programme is aimed at people aged 25 years and over who have been unemployed for 12 months or longer.