Tag: skills

Supporting people to work means supporting people to better health

We know that, employment is linked to good health. Statistically, if you’re employed, you’re likely to be more healthy.

In 2006, DWP commissioned a scientific evidence review of the links between health, work and wellbeing – Is work good for your health and well-being? An independent review (pdf). It concluded that:

…Work is generally good for physical and mental health and well-being. Worklessness is associated with poorer physical and mental health and well-being. Work can be therapeutic and can reverse the adverse health effects of unemployment.

Gateway was originally set up to help people into formal training or employment – and so to better health. This pre-employment training provides a “gateway” into employment – it’s what gave our organisation its name.

These days, our Employment Access, Skills and Training (EAST) department continues to work in the areas of unemployment, and supporting people to better health is still at the heart of everything we do.

What does EAST do?

EAST works with communities to enable people to work. We do this by offering work experience and paid employment, alongside vital support and training, to people who may not otherwise be able to access it. For example, in February we wrote about our Training To Care course, which offers funded opportunities for those who want to get into care work.

Going from being out of work to being in work is a big lifestyle change. It’s not easy to go from being unemployed for months, sometimes years, and straight into a job. So we support people to manage this change.

Many of the people we work with have some really useful and potentially transferable life experiences, but come up against barriers to work. They may not have everything an employer is looking for: the right qualifications, a certain amount of work experience, or employer references. Some may not have finished education; some have low literacy levels; some might have a police record. A lot of the people we see – especially younger people – have just never really learnt how to work, or developed a “work ethic”, yet.

So we support people to overcome these barriers. We help them to demonstrate their skills and experience, and to gain the work experience, qualifications, references and good work practices that they need to become employed – and therefore healthier.

We do this via our own programmes and working with other organisations. For example, Pop Up Talent offers young people new ways to look at work – to help them unearth hidden talents and to see potential employment in a broader, more positive way.

The “Skills Escalator”

The EAST department covers four main areas: Volunteering, Traineeships, Apprenticeships and Paraprofessionals. These provide a training and employment pathway – also known to us as the “skills escalator”.
Skills-Escalator

This allows people to enter at any stage of the pathway, and receive training and support to move up – as Farzana did when she trained with us before becoming a paraprofessional Pregnancy Outreach Worker, then moved on to begin a degree course in Nursing.

Put very simply, we see people in communities who have a wealth of life experience … and we see employers – particularly in the health sector – with needs. So we work to put these together. People think that to work in health and social care you have to be a doctor or a nurse, and that you need to be “a professional”. This isn’t true. Actually, we can’t think of a job that isn’t available in the health sector – from hairdresser to helicopter pilot!

Introducing Pop Up Talent

Pop-Up-Talent-logo-smOur Employment Access Skills and Training department (EAST) has an exciting new venture coming up in 2014: we’re going to be working with the Foyer Federation on the Pop Up Talent project.

The idea is to create a different type of job centre – one that really works for young people. Instead of young unemployed people going to a job centre to look for jobs, the Pop Up Talent Shops will go to them, opening up in the places where they already go. These Talent Shops will give young people the tools they need to get on in life – building their confidence and showcasing their talents to potential employers.

You may remember Pop Up Talent Shops from an episode of Channel 4’s Secret Millions, which followed the Foyer Federation and Dave “Bank of Dave” Fishwick as they convinced the Big Lottery Fund to back the project. You can watch the episode here (C4 website registration required).

Pop Up Talent is being run in London, Birmingham and South Wales, so it’s a national project – and Gateway is very pleased to be representing Birmingham. Birmingham is one of the youngest cities in England – if not the youngest – and this programme is really important for the next generation of workers. It’s up to all of us to get involved and Gateway is proud to be leading such an exciting innovation for the city.

From the Foyer Federation website:

Lots of young people tell us that the way in which Job Centre Plus and other providers operate isn’t working for them. We also know that the vast majority of small and medium sized businesses don’t use the Job Centre and they’re the employers who are likely to provide a great deal of the jobs in the future.

Pop Up Talent is a way of turning the way young people connect with employers on its head. Both ends of the supply chain are ready to try a radical new approach and start a different kind of conversation. Pop Up Talent does this by finding new ways to work: new ways into the labour market, and new solutions to a stubborn problem.

Pop Up Talent is a great fit for Gateway, as it bridges a gap in public service delivery and encourages personal confidence and independence. We can’t wait to get started – giving unemployed young people the chance to create work opportunities, and helping create a different conversation between employers and young people.

If you think you might be able to help – for example by offering voluntary short work experiences, volunteering opportunities, or short workshops in pop up talent shops – please get in touch.

Here’s a short film from the Foyer Federation, showcasing the Open Talent campaign, which helped to develop Pop Up Talent and so gives a bit more background about the project.

Our Keyworkers get people into the jobs they want

 

13 weeks pregnant and under a lot of stress, Diane* was a client of our POW service.  She was  involved with an abusive partner and had  suffered an early miscarriage, as well as experiencing the onset of depression. During that time her benefits had also been cancelled.

Diane was referred to the key worker service where she was offered support and guidance from one of Gateway’s Key-workers, Susan Bernard. When Susan met her she was still struggling financially.   Susan supported Diane through frequent one to one visits and phone calls and signposted her to relevant agencies, who helped Diane get motivated and search for courses  as she was interested in voluntary/paid employment.  Diane’s burning ambition since leaving school has been to work in the Travel and Tourism Industry.

Diane was very resilient despite all that she had been through as a young person and had been doing voluntary work with West Midlands Fire Service for a time. She had also managed to find a voluntary placement with Travel Lodge which she has hoped would lead to a permanent position.

She enrolled for a French language class which she has been attending one evening a week to improve her skills but unfortunately had a setback due to a car accident which meant she wasn`t able to continue her role with Travel Lodge. This was really disappointing for her because she had set her heart on working for them as a Receptionist/Front of House role and had done all the required training for the organisation .This was just another barrier to overcome for Diane.

Susan supported her to complete a quality CV and covering letter so she was prepared for future job vacancies.

With the gained confidence and tools for finding employment Diane applied for a job with Birmingham Airport for a Security post. She was not expecting to receive a positive response due to lack of experience but was keen to apply and hope for the best.  Diane was then short listed for the interview which was a full days assessment.  Diane was very nervous but Susan supported her with interview preparation and confidence building to help Diane focus on the task ahead.

Diane’s application was successful out of sixty applicants and feels over joyed with what she has managed to achieve after such a difficult start

Diane has now started her new job and is finally getting to where she wants to be in life, all with her new baby!

*Name changed to protect identity

Skills in Birmingham

There has been an interesting conversation this week  about what it is that employers value when recruiting staff  With the Birmingham and Solihull LEP meeting at the end of the month to discuss what skills the people of Birmingham need, Nick Booth from Podnosh, has tried to gather the views of people from across the city to see what they feel is currently missing in his blog piece below;

 

Read Nick’s article here

 

Views are sought from local organisations from across different sectors, each describing their interactions with the percieved skills (or lack of them) in the local area and also commenting on what they think is needed to make sure that Birmingham, and it’s people, is ready for the future.

 

Karl Binder, from Adhere left his views on the site, amongst others, while Gateway’s Chief Executive, Vicki Fitzgerald also commented on the debate by saying, “As a training provider and accredited delivery agent for qualifications, people often think we value qualifications above all else. This isn’t true, in fact the opposite is the case. We employ over 60 people that we have recruited for their experience, mostly of life, family, barriers, prejudice and often overcoming the most difficult of circumstances. Their experience is nothing without genuine commitment, passion and enthusiasm for what they are doing and it’s these values that we would recruit for.

 

Often qualifications mean exclusion for many rather than inclusion.I often see them as a hoop people have to jump through in order to do things that really matter. For me, while others were doing their degrees or their masters, I was learning about real life and real people and it taught me a huge amount.

 

We work mostly with the NHS and professional qualifications are necessary in most cases (my dentist for example!) Unlike many other sectors the qualifications rarely change and this can mean a job for life, but it also can mean that you never get to employ people who see the world from different perspectives – always valuing skills and qualifications over experience and values makes for a very insular organisation

 

So what do you think?

 

Are the skills that people are learning useful in today’s world? What skills, and when, should we be looking for when employing staff and does experience and ‘life-skills’ make you stand out more than qualifications?