Employability Day is a time to reflect on the challenges and opportunities ahead as part of a jobs-led recovery.
With the latest ONS employment figures showing that between December 2020 to February 2021, an estimated 1.67 million people were unemployed, up 311,000 on the same period the previous year, the Covid-19 pandemic has hit jobseekers hard.
National Employability Day takes place on the 30th of April and will shine a light on the services, solutions and often life-changing support available to individuals from organisations that will play an important role as part of a jobs-led recovery from Covid-19.
Amidst an uncertain labour market, employment and health specialist, Seetec Pluss, is helping thousands of people to reskill and move back into employment, creating fresh hope and opportunity for local people and their families.
Chris Harrison, Executive Director of Seetec Pluss, said: “After an incredibly difficult year, employment services have a more vital role than ever, supporting both the economic and social recovery by helping individuals to fulfil their potential in communities impacted the most by the pandemic. High quality employment support is needed to help close the gaps between advantaged and disadvantaged groups, making sure no-one is left behind as part of an inclusive recovery.”
From new graduates, to those that re-skill and change careers, through to individuals facing unemployment in their later years, too many working lives have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. But people like Maisie, Wayne and Rex are now finding employment to help stabilise the economy and the UK’s recovery.
First-class honours graduate Maisie Tucker, 21, from Oxfordshire, struggled to find a job at the height of the pandemic after completing her history degree. Her dream was to work in one of Oxford’s world-renowned museums – a tough sector to break into at any time, let alone during a period of enforced closure.
Maisie, who was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome while at university, joined the Work and Health Programme, funded by the Department for Work and Pensions and the European Social Fund, in November.
She worked with her Change Coach, to define her goals, identify suitable work opportunities and prepare applications and supporting statements, as well having a mock interview before facing her first three-stage panel selection process, leading to a job offer.
Maisie said: “This is my biggest achievement to date and I really look forward to see what is in store for me next as I start my role at the Ashmolean Museum.”
Change Coach Alice Lorge, from Seetec Pluss partner Activate Learning, added: “Maisie has been open to advice and trying different avenues to secure meaningful employment. I am excited for her as she launches her career within her ideal sector and I look forward to providing in-work support to ensure a smooth transition.”
Wayne Bassnett, 63, from The Wirral, was referred to Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS), a separate strand of the Work and Health Programme (WHP), delivered in the North West by Seetec Pluss. JETS provides tailored support to individuals made unemployed due to the impact of Covid-19.
Wayne, a qualified social worker of 25 years, was plummeted into unemployment when the pandemic hit and he had to self-isolate.
Wayne explained: “I went from being on £23 an hour, to £12 a day. I’m not a materialistic man, but I couldn’t afford my internet bill, so I had to park up where I could use free Wi-Fi. The change in my circumstances meant I had to total up the cost of my food on a calculator to make sure I had enough money.”
Wayne was unemployed for a year before joining the JETS programme and his Employment Advisor, Anna, not only helped him to get started with his job search activities , but also encouraged him to feel more confident about the future, which reduced the sense of social isolation he had felt for some time.
Wayne added: “It was nice to have someone to talk to, sometimes in these dark times you need a little light. I needed some encouragement and that’s what they gave me.”
Wayne is now completing his training for a new role working for the Department for Work and Pensions – he deals with enquiries for people applying for Universal Credit – a full circle from the position he was in himself.
He concluded: “I’d say to anyone considering joining JETS that they’ve got nothing to lose. By joining JETS, you’re taking back control. I’m moving forward thanks to the JETS programme.”
Rex Watkins, 27, from Hampshire, was originally a barber but, due to Covid-19, was unable to continue in the sector.
Through the support of his Employment Advisor, Rex looked at his existing skill set and matched his strengths with the viable career options available in the jobs market. Seetec Pluss partner Maximus, supported Rex to achieve his CSCS card, meaning he could look for longer term roles within the construction industry. He also secured temporary employment in a warehouse near where he lives.
Rex is currently in temporary work on construction sites in Reading. He hopes to combine returning to his work as a barber with construction jobs on days he is not in the salon.
Rex said: “The JETS programme is fantastic and has really helped me to re-train and put positive steps in place to improve my future prospects.” He also hopes to fulfil his dream to build his own home.
Rex’s Employment Advisor, Emma, said: “Rex has given 100 per cent commitment to the programme and taken on board everything we suggested. He is a real credit to himself. Rex has taken a challenging situation and turned it into a positive.”
As a prime provider of the Work and Health Programme, Seetec Pluss has helped over 6,000 participants towards and into sustainable employment. Seetec Pluss has also specifically supported over 2,900 participants to achieve job outcomes on the JETS programme (an expansion of the Work and Health Programme) since it was launched in October 2020. To stimulate a jobs-led recovery, a greater focus on active labour market policies, which support upskilling those in the labour market alongside enhanced employment assistance, is needed to better support jobseekers at this time of great uncertainty.
Elizabeth Taylor, Chief Executive of the Employment Related Services Association, said:
“Employability Day is the perfect platform to demonstrate the wealth of support, experience and innovation offered by the employability sector. Year on year, Seetec Pluss takes a leading role in the day and 2021 is no exception.
“Given the changing face of employment in the past year, it is imperative to make social value and meaningful support for those that need it most the essence of our delivery. Seetec Pluss’ Employability Day schedule does just that – bringing together partners and commissioners, while also offering practical advice and guidance for jobseekers and employers. There’s also the opportunity to look at careers within the employability sector as we resource and prepare for unprecedented demand for our services.
“Seetec Pluss and other providers should justifiably showcase their outstanding work and we look forward to celebrating an Employability Day like no other with them.”
Employability Day on the 30th of April (#EmpDay21), organised by the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), celebrates the diverse services and solutions provided by employment support organisations, and their success in helping individuals to enter or progress into jobs.
Photos: Maisie Tucker, Wayne Bassnett and Rex Watkins
Latest employment figures from the Office for National Statistics are available on the government website.