Executive Director for Seetec Pluss employability, Chris Harrison, explains that as economic storm clouds intensify, it’s more important than ever to celebrate positivity in employability.
This year has become the UK labour market’s annus horribilis.
The claimant count for unemployment benefits is rising faster than at any point since they were introduced. There was a record 58 per cent fall in job vacancies over the past three months and there are now 8.5 people chasing every vacancy. That rises to 20-50 in poorer areas, including already marginalised coastal, inner city and ex-industrial communities.
This wave of unemployment has hit those at the periphery of the labour market, in addition to those we already support through our delivery of mainstream employability programmes. Young people aged 18-24 looking for their first job, ex-offenders determined to turn away from crime and people with disabilities who continue to endure complex societal barriers to employment.
In this context, it might seem odd to put ‘feeling good’ at the very heart of the way Seetec Pluss and Pluss CIC conducts business, from helping people return to the workforce, to influencing employers and commmissioners.
But it is now more important than ever to stay focused on helping the people we support to stay positive. It’s only through nurturing people’s health and wellbeing that we can help people go on to achieve at work. That’s why the range of specialist services we provide, including the social prescribing services we deliver with hundreds of local community organisations at community hubs, where our wellbeing activities offer people the chance to connect with others, lead happier, healthier lives, is so critical at this time.
This is shown to work. By collaborating with employers, the NHS and family doctors, our retention services helped 84 per cent of people identified at highest risk of falling out of work to stay in their jobs and excel.
The same is true for care leavers, young people not in education, employment or training and people who have grown up in families facing domestic abuse, poverty, multi-generational unemployment, addiction and debt. Specialist employability teams are highly adept at delivering personalised services because many of those we work with face the most complex societal barriers imaginable. A pathway to work starts with positivity, resilience and helping people to value and unlock their own potential.
As a sector, we understand the formula that gets people into work but we of course recognise the significant challenges ahead. We will need to double down on our expert knowledge of local labour markets to understand the skills that are most in demand. We will also need to think of new ways to help people develop transferrable skills to find work in areas of job growth such as education, healthcare and logistics.
Critically, we also need to involve the people who use our services in the design and delivery, and collaborate and work closer than ever with our networks of incredible local community partners, like Chaos and Cosmic to name a few, to ensure our programmes and support continue to evolve to meet the needs identified. This is one of the tremendous opportunities we have as an employee-owned organisation as part of our efforts to align even more closely the interests of colleagues, and local partners with those who use our services.
The toll of the economic dislocation could also damage the mental health of half a million people. As an organisation known for championing the employment of people with health conditions and disabilities, we recognise how scarring this could be for those most severely affected. We’re determined to drive that number down, which is why this year more than ever, we’re aiming to inject positivity, hope and feeling good at the heart of everything we do as we continue our mission to ensure that no-one is ever left behind.