Name: Gemma Chauhan
Job Title: Employment Support Adviser
Organisation: First Choice Homes Oldham
What is it you do?
I’m an Employment Adviser in the Directions team at First Choice Homes Oldham and our aim is to help customers access sustainable employment. We’re a social housing provider, owning and managing approximately 11500 properties. Our team support customers into training, placements and employment.
What do you see as the biggest issues facing the employability sector?
Changes to welfare benefits are an issue with the client group I work with; these mean that income can be less stable and that there’s often external pressure for customers to apply for shorter term or zero hours contracts. We also work with a lot of customers who have a lack of knowledge of how to apply for jobs and struggle to sustain work; so there can be lots of skills building before customers are employment ready.
How do we measure our success?
The journey into training and employment is important to us; so as well as the obvious outcome of getting somebody into work, we also measure success by a range of other factors. We track when a customer experiences a boost in confidence; by attending interviews, or completing a training session resulting in increased self-awareness and esteem. At these key points they are further along their journey to finding sustainable employment.
What do you think the employability sector is doing really well?
The many success stories emerging from the sector are evidence of the immense passion and dedication people working in it have. There are many challenges in supporting people into training and employment but I see so much enthusiasm from those doing the work and that’s fantastic.
What do you think would improve the work of front line staff?
Changes to the welfare system can have a knock on effect on many of our customers, so it is important that front line staff are up to date in their knowledge of these changes. Regular training can ensure that we give customers accurate and valid information, which helps them to understand their choices.
What key piece of advice would you give to Employability Advisers?
Make sure you network - taking advantage of sharing best practice with others is a great way to keep up to date with any changes and to find out about events that may benefit your customers and business. Don’t forget to network within your organisation too; as building a good rapport with colleagues promotes your service and helps maintain good working relationships.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
To not talk too much! It is really important to be able to listen to what your customers need or want from you as an Employment Adviser. By letting the customer lead you gain a better understanding of how you can best support them; meaning you work together for a positive outcome.