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 Devon. Being out of work can be an endless cycle leading to poor health, low self-esteem, mental health issues and disengagement. When you reach a 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 Devon, works with many job seekers who find themselves in these situations. One person they helped recently was Steve.
Steve has been out of work for a number of years. He has a chequered work history having previous worked in a number of roles including as a motorbike mechanic and in a foundry.
Steve was receiving employment support allowance when he was first told he had to attend the Work Programme at the start of 2014. Having not worked for some time Steve was reluctant to participate and felt he was not ready to return to work. He was nervous about attending sessions and participating in group work, his lack of confidence and low self-esteem meant Steve did not react well to pressure and stress.
Working closely with his advisers, Phil and Sharon, Steve attended Prospects’ Exeter office, learning tips and techniques to improve his employability. Together they created a CV, selected appropriate interview clothes, improved Steve’s IT skills and made a visual plan of action. Steve’s plan, his picture of his future, included a clear route back to employment, ways to sort out his finances, a plan to move into new accommodation and ways to improve his health. Steve’s plan has helped him make definite moves towards his goals.
Steve has now completed a forklift driving three day course, obtained qualifications in maths and English and built his confidence. Steve is now regularly contacting employers and attending interviews. His health is improving and he is more positive. He says of himself when he joined Work Programme: “I was stuck in a rut, I knew I didn’t want to spend my life in bed feeling sorry for myself but couldn’t get out of the rut. Now I’ve made a plan and I’m making it happen. I’ve got a sense of purpose. My life is about getting out and back to normal, sorting out my family and my life.”
Phil, Steve’s adviser added: “Steve was anxious, sceptical and closed when he first joined. We took things slowly to start with to help Steve build his confidence, working in groups where he could participate on his own terms. Gradually we introduced more training until it took on its own momentum and now Steve is ready to move on.”
Phil added: “The Work Programme is about getting people ready for the right opportunity, for some that might happen almost instantly, but for some, like Steve, it may take a little longer - but the benefits are huge. Steve is now healthier, happier and working. It’s more than just getting people back to work, it’s about giving them back their lives.”
In the past month Prospects have helped 24 people in Devon back into work. That’s 24 people who are now able to move their lives forward and develop their potential.
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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