A despondent and unemployed young adult says his life has been turned around by a learning skills programme.

Chino Lachica, 24, from Watford, says he did not know where to turn after struggling to nail down a job.

He had no prior work experience and the added challenge of being autistic and he was growing increasingly "demotivated".

But Chino's luck began to change when his mother came across Hertfordshire County Council's adult and family learning service programme called Building Better Opportunities (BBO).

Chino said: "I was introduced to my mentor, Tiffany. Together, we would look at job opportunities that were local, and plausible. Tiffany guided me through the process while still allowing me the space and respect to complete my own applications. I’d then run my work past her before sending it off. It was so nice to have a helping hand, without feeling like a burden.

"I could already see the potential. I hoped the project would provide me with support and guidance in approaching employers and the interview process. In fact, it did so much more than that. I became motivated, excited, hopeful.

"I looked forward to being able to support myself and contribute financially to the family home. I began to feel a sense of independence."

Watford Observer: Chino LachicaChino Lachica

The BBO programme has helped Chino bag himself a job at a supermarket.

He said: "Tiffany was always so responsive and flexible - I felt like she was very patient and understanding of my personality and the struggles I have. I learned how to improve my CV, be more articulate in answering an employer's questions and how to appeal more to their interests. I also found it helpful to be checked on, even after I was successful in getting into employment.

"This resulted in an interview with Morrisons – and I was accepted into the role pretty much the day after. I started work really soon after and it’s going really well.

"It makes me happy to be able to contribute to my home, being able to get niceties for myself whenever I like, and the feeling of independence is definitely quite rewarding."

This week, the county council published its third Hertfordshire Skills and Employment Strategy, providing a roadmap out of the pandemic and up to 2024.

The strategy is in partnership with Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership and the Department for Work and Pensions.

Cllr Terry Douris, executive member education, libraries and lifelong learning, said: "We’ve seen the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on residents and businesses in Hertfordshire, and this Skills and Employment Strategy is a crucial part of our recovery plans.

"We want Hertfordshire to be a county where people have the opportunity to live healthy, fulfilling lives in thriving, prosperous communities, and helping people get skilled jobs is key to delivering this.

"This strategy will help us make sure that everyone, no matter what age, can get the support they need to develop new or existing skills that will help them unlock their potential."