More people in work in Dorset
The employment figure from July to September 2015 is up, 177,000 more people are in work than between April to June. This is great news for the UK and the south west has one of the lowest rates of unemployment in the UK. That’s great news for our local economy.
But there are still some people who find it hard to get back to work, and the longer you are out of the workplace, the harder it is to get back there. With a booming local economy it seems surprising to hear that not everyone who needs a job can get into work. But there are many reasons.
Employers don’t like to see gaps in people’s CVs. The old adage it’s easy to get a job when you’re in work rings true for many people who are unemployed in Dorset. Being out of work can be an endless cycle leading to poor health, low self-esteem, mental health issues and disengagement. When you reach that low it is hard to believe you will ever turn your life around.
Prospects, the education, employment and skills company, delivering the Work Programme for the Department of Work and Pensions, in Dorset works with many job seekers who find themselves in these situations. One person they helped recently was Julia Heasman.
Julia, had not worked for 13 years following the birth of her children. Originally trained as a graphic designer, Julia ran her own business before changing careers and working as a nursery assistant at a playgroup. Julia gained her City & Guilds Caring in Children qualifications at Poole College and worked with children until the birth of her own first child.
While the children were growing up Julia found odd jobs that fitted around her family, but following the breakdown of her marriage and traumatic divorce, Julia’s self-esteem hit rock bottom.
Julia received Employment and Support Allowance, the allowance available for people unable to work because of illness or disability before being referred to the Work Programme delivered by Prospects.
The Work Programme supports people for up to two years, and for the first 18 months of support Julia felt she was not ready to return to work. Julia had few aspirations and her lack of confidence meant she believed the only options available were unskilled jobs.
This lack of self-esteem meant Julia was afraid she would be pushed into work when she was mentally, physically and emotionally unprepared. Prospects worked with Julia offering her practical help. She attended confidence building sessions, getting ready for work training and other courses offering her support to get back into work.
Understanding how stressful Julia found the process was essential and everyone involved worked together to help her address her fears. Triggers, such as interview pressures, were identified and Julia was mentored, learning how to put herself forward positively in interview situations.
To enable Julia to build her work skills and confidence she volunteered as a receptionist at the Prospects office she attended. As her confidence grew Julia joined the Pathways Programme run by Prospects with partners in Dorset, the Spectrum Housing Group. This eight week course offered Julia an opportunity to work in the office supporting and shadowing housing officers and assistants. With three weeks still left to run of the eight week programme Julia was offered a six month paid contract.
Completing the Pathways Programme, developed by Prospects, opened up all sorts of training possibilities for Julia. She has now completed a number of online courses and is starting a touch typing course. She has improved her IT skills ensuring she is more employable and able to adapt in the future.
With her six month’s paid work history Julia knows she will now be more employable and is looking for office, administration and reception work.
Julia commented: “The Work Programme helped me make more sense of how to become work ready. It has given me stepping stones to make my way back into work when I was left with nothing.”
Nicola Macfarlane from Prospects said: “Julia has come a million miles since she started with us. Her drive to make a difference to people’s lives has motivated her to set up her own charity and she is an inspiration to those around her.”
Nicola added: “The Work Programme is about getting people ready for the right opportunity, for some that might happen almost instantly, but for others, like Julia, who are further from the job market it takes a little longer. At Prospects it’s about more than just getting people back to work, it’s about giving them back their lives.”
The Prospects team of advisers providing the Work Programme work with people individually and in small groups to help them gain employability skills.
In the past month Prospects have helped 41people in Dorset back into work. That’s 41 people who are now better off financially, who are now able to move their lives forward and develop their potential.
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Notes to Editor
A photograph of the Prospects office in Bournemouth is attached.
The Prospects Group is a dynamic and enterprising organisation providing a wide range of education, employment and skills services in the UK and internationally. At the heart of what we do is the drive to improve the life chances, skills and aspirations of everyone we support. Each year we support more than 500,000 young people and adults.
Alona de Havilland