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The EP blog features a different article each edition that focuses on an issue of interest to employability professionals and front line advisors.

 

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The EP Blog

Posted By Heather Ette, 16 May 2018

Establishing the ‘real’ causes of long-term sickness absence and its contribution to lost working time

Exclusive joint research from The At Work Partnership and the Work Foundation provides concrete evidence that the reason someone takes long-term sickness absence and remains off sick, isn’t just down to the diagnosis given on the fit note or sick certificate.

This biopsychosocial survey of long-term sickness absence, published in the journal Occupational Health at Work, demonstrates that while the initial diagnosis is relevant in triggering the initial absence other factors are often involved. For example ‘comorbid’ conditions – where an employee has a second health condition, such as depression, in addition to their main diagnosis, are important factors in triggering and prolonging absences. Importantly, ‘psychosocial’ factors – such as the employee believing their ill health is caused or made worse by work, poor support from the manager and disciplinary issues – are also important in triggering and prolonging the absence.

 The survey also shows that around 3.2% of working time is lost to sickness absence in respondents’ organisations (which were generally large employers in both the private and public sectors) – equivalent to 7.3 days per employee a year. Just under half (46%) of total lost working time due to sickness absence is from absences lasting 20 working days or more.

Stress and mental health were the most common reasons for long-term sickness absence referrals to occupational health, followed by combined musculoskeletal and stress/mental health conditions. Musculoskeletal conditions such as back pain were the third most common reason for long-term sickness absence referrals to OH.

Only one-quarter of employees currently on long-term sick leave (at the time of the survey) had been absent with the same condition before.

Most long-term absences tended to resolve after two or three months; however, many respondents reported cases lasting 12 months or more. One respondent revealed that an employee had been off sick for eight years in their organisation.

Report co-author Dr John Ballard said: ‘The findings reported in our exclusive survey confirm that the causes of long-term sickness absence can be complex and that multiple medical and psychosocial issues need to be considered in its management.’

 

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National Apprenticeship Week

Posted By Seetec, 16 March 2018

Apprentices gain a view from the top

Two apprentices working for major Essex-based employers swapped jobs with the boss for a day to gain an insight into management roles.

To mark National Apprenticeship Week, which ran from 5 to 9 March, the job swaps shined a light on the benefits apprenticeships bring to individuals and employers.

Recruitment consultant apprentice Laura Turner, 26, helps employment and skills organisation Seetec to recruit apprentices, and works with employers to match them to available opportunities. She swapped with Seetec Managing Director John Baumback, who joined the organisation as a 16-year-old apprentice and has worked his way up to running the multi-million pound business, which now employs 1,200 staff.

During their job swap on Tuesday 6 March, they visited Southend United Football Club, where Digital Marketing apprentice Callum Bishop, swapped with his boss, Head of Commercial Rhys Ellingham.

Southend West MP Sir David Amess also attended the football club to mark the occasion and talk with the apprentices about their experience.

Laura, from Leigh-on-Sea, said: “I have only recently started the apprenticeship but I hope it will help me to improve my negotiation skills for managing clients, and help with my personal development. My goal is to progress within the company to a team leader position.

“The job swap helped me to learn leadership skills, and about building a management team and delegating responsibility to other staff members.”

John Baumback explained: “I wouldn’t be where I am now if I wasn’t given the opportunity and believed in. There are plenty of young people out there that, given the chance, will be tomorrow’s leaders.

 “When you take on an apprentice, you mould them to the culture and ethos of your organisation. You can watch them growing in front of your eyes. Young people make such a difference to the outlook of your business – they understand how to relate and engage with younger audiences, and they have the enthusiasm and new ideas.”

At Southend United, lifelong Blues fan Callum, 18, from Leigh-on-Sea, said: “It’s a dream come true to come to work for the club. It didn’t seem real at first, and it’s different from what I expected. I didn’t realise how much planning goes into everything.

“I’ve learned a lot about writing creatively, and about organising things. I’ve also improved my video skills, but most of all I’ve learnt about being professional. I’m working to improve my skills as I hope to get a job here at the end of my apprenticeship.”

Rhys Ellingham said: “Callum was the perfect candidate for the role, giving himself the opportunity to further enhance his digital skills and gain qualifications whilst also helping the commercial department move forward and increase revenue with his social media, website and video input.”

As part of their Job Swap day John Baumback and Laura Turner also visited Greensward School in Hockley to speak to students about the opportunities apprenticeships offer.

Laura explained: “I would encourage any young person to apply for an apprenticeship, you can learn new skills and start your career on the job, as well as earn an income. You also gain confidence, professionalism, and team building skills.  It opens a lot of opportunities within the workplace for a future career.”

To demonstrate the value of apprenticeships, Seetec encouraged other employers to take part in the National Apprenticeship Week Job Swap.

 

 

 

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Employing Disabled Talent

Posted By Heather Ette, 07 March 2018

Channel 4 Introduces TV Sector Guide on Employing Disabled Talent

Channel 4 has produced a pioneering guide to employing disabled people which has been specially tailored for the TV industry.

The guide offers companies in the broadcast sector a range of practical advice on employing disabled people including how to find disabled talent, how to make a company more attractive to disabled people and ways to offer support to disabled employees.

The guide explains basic information such as what is meant by ‘disability’, guidance around language and some simple do’s and don’t’s and also offers focussed advice on how an employer might make adjustments for specific conditions such as hearing impairments, mental health conditions or dyslexia and dyspraxia.

Employing Disabled Talent – a guide for the TV sector was commissioned by Channel 4’s Chief Marketing and Communications Officer and Board Diversity Champion Dan Brooke who said: “The representation of disabled people in our industry is still woefully low.

“We want to help people in the TV sector; we want to help our suppliers and partners understand the value to be had in employing disabled people and give them practical guidance to help them feel more confident in doing so.”

Lord Holmes of Richmond MBE, a Channel 4 non-executive director, welcomed the initiative saying: “I’m delighted Channel 4 has commissioned this guide that provides a one-stop-shop of advice and guidance on employing disabled people in the broadcast industry.

“We all have a role to play in addressing the terrible fact that talent is everywhere whilst opportunity, currently, is not. Let’s change that.”

As well as offering practical advice on finding, hiring and retaining disabled talent, the guide also explains why businesses should want to hire disabled talent. These include reasons such as having a diverse workforce helping to drive creativity and innovation and the fact that disabled people are often creative thinkers and natural problem solvers because of the challenges they face every day.

Channel 4 will be sharing the guide with independent production companies and other partners in the industry over the next few months and make it available on its corporate site here (opens in a new window)

 

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The EP Blog

Posted By Heather Ette, 01 March 2018

APPG Report : those furthest from the labour market

by Youth Employment UK

Late last year the All Party Parliamentary Group for Youth Employment launched an inquiry into best practice that helps young people furthest from the labour market into employment.

The inquiry received 15 submissions and heard evidence from Mark Pike of Develop EBP, Leanora Volpe of Leonard Cheshire and culminated in young people posing questions to Anne Milton, Minister of State for Skills and Apprenticeships.

We are delighted to be able to make the report available today, with a short and full version available to download

Click here to download the short version of the report

Click here to download the long version of the report

THE FINDINGS:

The APPG for Youth Employment has found that:

  • too many young people still face barriers to employment
  • there is also a concerning number of young people ‘hidden’ from the official statistics. These are young people who are NEET (not in education, employment or training) and not claiming welfare support.
  • new policy and funding models can create perverse implications for social mobility
  • young people furthest from the labour market face a number of barriers meaning it can be a struggle to complete programmes with pre-determined markers for achievements

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Based on the evidence heard at the meetings and put forward through the written submissions the APPG for Youth Employment is making the following recommendations to government:

  • Ensure that all young people in education have access to work experience. Information, advice and guidance must be both aspirational and practical and include helping with the 'soft' skills that are so important to securing employment.
  • Ensure that all young people have adequate mental health support and that early intervention models are in place. Young people must be taught how to develop resilience and take care of themselves.
  • A one-size fits all approach does not work. Education, employment and welfare services must begin to recognise the unique potential of each young person and that what works for one does not necessarily work for all.
  • Investment must be put into identifying young people NEET and hidden at a local level. Services and support for these individuals must be holistic, whilst understanding that vital youth services are at risk from funding challenges.
  • Include young people and experienced organisations in the design of national and local approaches to youth employment.
  • Provide financial and information support for employers to work with young people who are furthest from the labour market including better information on Access to Work, recognition of the national employer kite mark – the Talent Match Mark could support this.
  • Better coordination of responsibilities and services across government departments that support young people. This includes the Department for Education, Department for Work and Pensions, Department for Health and Ministry of Justice.

"We are an aspirational nation, and this is highlighted most by the energy and vigour of our young people. Their drive and potential is huge. They rightly want the opportunity to build a brighter future and it is our job as Parliamentarians to enable them to fulfil that promise. This is why we must redouble our efforts to eradicate long term youth unemployment and give young people the opportunity to pursue a fulfilling career and build a better future for themselves and their families". APPG Chair Michael Tomlinson MP

For further information about the report and the APPG for Youth Employment please contact Youth Employment UK the Secretariat for the APPG for Youth Employment. www.youthemployment.org.uk or email info@youthemployment.org.uk

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The EP Blog

Posted By Faye Thomas, Chief Operating Officer at Kennedy Scott, 24 February 2018

Developing positive change through the ‘Circle of Support’

By Faye Thomas, Chief Operating Officer at Kennedy Scott

Everyone has their own interests and strengths and their own set of skills to contribute to society. This belief is at the core of everything we do at Kennedy Scott, an organisation founded 28 years ago by Teresa Scott OBE.

Our mission is, and has always been, to support those with the most complex barriers to work to find great jobs and build successful careers. We are strong advocates of diversity within employment and believe that people combatting mental health issues, or living with disabilities such as autism, should have the same opportunities as everyone else to find an enjoyable job.

Kennedy Scott staff have a wealth of experience in dealing with candidates that are marginalised by society, something that has been refined and developed into our ‘Circle of Support’ initiative. Our innovative approach has even been credited as an industry exemplar and resulted in us being finalists for the ERSA Disability and Health Provider of the Year award last year.

Initially, the ‘Circle of Support’ approach was developed over years of ESF provision for hardest to help customers for which we were cited by Ofsted as an example of Best Practice. More recently the model evolved into our Work Choice Provision, but over the last two years it has been refined into our National DWP Specialist Employability Support (SES) Prime contract.

The rationale behind the ‘Circle of Support’ is that to adequately support customers with barriers to work, it is vital to include all key stakeholders in a customer’s journey to employment; the candidate, caseworker, the Employer Account Manager (EAM), the activity coordinator, the employer, and of course friends and family.

Before a ‘Circle of Support’ meeting is assembled, we offer clients a holistic and comprehensive bio psychosocial model to identify all barriers, aspirations, strengths and relevant support networks. The ‘Circle of Support’ meets a minimum of once a month, either in person, on teleconferences or through bilateral discussions.  This approach allows candidates to benefit from a shared vision and shared responsibilities for progression whilst offering a sustainable network of support. The approach is multidisciplinary and personalized to each individual and offers an efficient approach to resourcing.

In this way, the ‘Circle of Support’ naturally responds to the contours of local demographics and needs, as we are able to include those community organisations which reflect the people they serve.

Take our candidate Callum, who is based in Amble, Northumberland. Callum, who has Asperger’s syndrome, joined Kennedy Scott’s DWP/European Social Funded Specialist Employment Support programme in July 2016.  We assigned him a dedicated caseworker who utilised the ‘Circle of Support’ model, working not only with Callum and his family but also in tandem with the leader of his community support group.

Callum’s caseworker assisted him with personal development and work readiness through a number of different activities, including an exploration of job goals and the local job market, and arranging relevant training courses.

After deducing that Callum had a passion for castles and history, we supported him to apply for a position as a Food and Beverage Assistant at Alnwick castle. To Callum’s delight and after intensive interview preparation, he was offered the position. Callum, who struggled with confidence and self-esteem issues, had never had a paid job before so he was delighted with this achievement.

In the months that followed, Callum’s caseworker set up a schedule of contact with him and his employer, to ensure everything stayed on track. As a result of Callum’s enthusiasm and strong work ethic he was even offered the chance to be involved in history tours for the castle after just six months at Alnwick. Callum is still employed at Alnwick and I know he will prosper in his future career.

As Callum’s success shows, Kennedy Scott is successfully working towards our shared goal of improving employability access for all, through initiatives such as the ‘Circle of Support’. We have historic and current strong rates of performance and are dedicated to delivering the best possible service to those we seek to help. Consequently, we have performed consistently in terms of job outcomes and are performing 131% against target since January 2016.

With this success rate in the past couple of years and in light of our founder, Teresa Scott’s dedication and commitment to the cause and her recent OBE New Year’s honour, we very much look forward to developing and expanding our ‘Circle of Support’ model to help and support even more people into sustainable jobs in 2018, whatever their challenge or barriers to work. 

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The EP Blog

Posted By Heather Ette, 06 February 2018

What will be your experience of the #50 Year Career?

by Heather Ette MIEP, Marketing and Communications Manager, IEP

Last year Liz Sewell FIEP wrote a blog about the #50 Year Career and how the employment landscape has changed, particularly for women.  Young people leaving school this summer are likely to be working for a minimum of fifty years before they are entitled to their pension.

Whilst women have traditionally led quite fragmented careers due to long breaks to bring up children, times are a changing and the world of work is very different now to how it was 50 years ago.

This led me to thinking about what the 50 year career actually means and reflecting on what my 70 year old self might look back on in my career. What will be the highlights? Which moments from my career were defining?  What would I do differently if I had the chance?

I guess it starts with education.  Did I really achieve all I was capable of or could I have done more? Should I have tried harder and perhaps looked into Further Education to strengthen what I had already learned?  As a Mother I continuously drum into my children the importance of getting the best education they can so that they can widen the opportunities available to them when they reach a working age. I have to say that when I was at school in the 80’s it seemed less important and the world of work didn’t seem quite as daunting as perhaps it does for young people today. 

I had a modest education in a London state school but it served to secure me a job with my local council where I took all the opportunities that were afforded to me.  I began my career in the typing pool at the age of 17 and took every chance I had to hone my skills, taking Evening Classes in Shorthand so that I could apply for a secretarial position as soon as one became available. I was lucky enough to be offered the job of a newly created role that involved providing temporary cover to the Council’s 20 or so secretaries when they were absent. This gave me a thorough understanding and knowledge of every departmental area in the local authority and served me well when I joined the first ever Local Authority Marketing Department in Enfield. 

I never looked back from that moment on. Marketing was the career for me and it has served me well over the past 30 years.  I have worked in a range of public and private sector organisations in industries including entertainment, leisure, transport, IT and now employability.  It has provided me with versatility and flexibility and, as technology has advanced, I’ve picked up new skills, adapted the way I work and gained confidence and knowledge with each new role.

The nature of marketing is that it lends itself to flexible working methods and as such, I’ve been able to combine my career with bringing up my family. I chose to work on a self-employed basis when my first child was born so that I had the opportunity to work from home and be there for my children whilst keeping my hand in with work.  As my children have grown, so has my role, working on a freelance basis for a number of clients and increasing the hours I work. 

There have been times when I’ve missed the social aspects of work and being able to ‘bounce ideas’ around an office but I’ve kept in touch with all my colleagues from the past and as they’ve become close friends they’re always there when I need some input.

So if I envisage now how I will feel in 20 years’ time and looking back on my 50 year career what will be the stand-out moments?

Certainly I will be grateful that I had the chance to work with some amazing people, travelled the world and challenged myself in many different roles.  But probably the most important aspect will be the fact that I was able to do it and still be a full-time mum too.  It’s not always been easy but I feel it’s not just benefited me personally and financially but it’s been a good life lesson for my children to understand the importance of work and will hopefully set them in good stead for the future too.

The 50 Year Career is now a reality. What do you think your experiences and stand-out moments will be?

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The EP Blog

Posted By Lisa Link, 16 January 2018

Must Know Strategies For Achieving Work-Life Balance

by Lisa Link, Executive Director of Enrolment for Cornerstone University's Traditional Undergraduate Admissions Office

These days, the term “work-life balance” is everywhere, and everyone from life coaches to corporate CEOs are talking about it. The term is a bit loosely defined, but it generally refers to how well you do (or don’t) manage responsibilities and relationships harmoniously throughout your life. When responsibilities become too great or too overwhelming, the relationships you have with family, friends, and with yourself can begin to suffer.  

In a recent interview with Forbes about his new book, Rethink Work, author Eric Termuende describes the ways that work/life balance is evolving:

It used to be work-life balance, now it is work-life integration (or just life, and work is woven in). The forces shaping it are the accessibility of information and the ability to work from more places at more times of the day. Organizations need to tell a more holistic story about how they go about doing the work, why, and who with. We can now work from more locations, during more times of the day, from more devices than ever before. The conversation used to be about just work; now it is much, much bigger.

Finding the right equilibrium between life and work isn’t about the number of hours you devo to one or the other. It’s about establishing a general set of priorities in your life and committing the time you have outside of work toward improving and maintaining what’s important to you.  

That balance will inevitably shift at times, because life is unpredictable and you can’t plan for everything. But by focusing on clearly defined goals instead of rigid schedules, you can eventually achieve a balanced and more flexible lifestyle.  

Is work/life balance really that important? Yes. As Tim Kehl notes:

Today work-life balance ranks as one of the most important workplace attributes -- second only to compensation, and workers who feel they have a better work-life balance tend to work 21% harder than employees who feel overworked.

What Steps Can You Take to Improving Work/Life Balance?

The first step to improving life outside of work is breaking the cycle of overworking and overstressing. Whether you’re a workaholic, overachiever, or perfectionist, finding a good work-life balance requires learning to leave your work at the office.  

If you’re the type that habitually brings your work home and spends too much time thinking about the job when you’re off the clock, then adding variety and quality to the rest of your life will help to minimize the prominence your job already has.

Consider the effort and dedication going into your work and seriously evaluate what you’re getting back out of it. While it might be reasonable to work a fifty hour week for a few months while trying to earn a promotion, working those hours non-stop for little in return is not.  

You might be the type that strives for perfection or always goes above and beyond what’s asked, but without any payoff, the cost is your own happiness and well-being.   Ease that notion in the workplace and apply that same determination and drive to areas of your life that will make you happier and more fulfilled.

Turn Off Your Devices

Schedule time to turn off the phones, tablets, and e-readers and then stick to it.  For some people, it’s nearly impossible to detach from work with all the devices available and notifications coming in around the clock. But, it can be highly beneficial to find some time each day to go device-free.Recent evidence indicates that evenings may be the best time of day to do it.

A 2015 study of roughly fifteen hundred American adults showed more than nine out of ten people use devices at or near bedtime, and that the use of these devices interferes with both the quality and quantity of sleep they get. Minimizing your device use at night will help take your mind off work and could result in better, more restful sleep and better productivity during the day.

Exercise

Find some time to exercise every single day. Experts agree that increasing your physical activity has a multitude of benefits for health and stress management. As of 2016, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reports that only about one in five Americans are participating in the amount of aerobic and strengthening exercise that’s recommended and it’s not surprising that work-life balance suffers as a result.  

Proper exercise and physical fitness reaps immediate benefits in the form of stress relief, endorphin release, and increased functional capacity. Exercising regularly improves long-term outcomes of work-life balance by preventing future health problems and injuries while improving quality and longevity of life.

Practice Mindfulness

Practice mindfulness and self-reflection. In recent years, mindfulness has become a hot topic for discussion and the concept has been applied to various facets of day-to-day life, even as a useful tactic in weight loss management.  

Mindfulness is a form of meditative practice.Introducing any kind of meditation into your life can result in reduced stress, better attention and concentration, and calmer thinking. Stretching, yoga, breathing exercises, and traditional meditation are all ways to incorporate mindfulness into your daily schedule.

Evaluate Your Relationships

Recognize which relationships are important to you and invest more time in cultivating them. One of the best ways to counter feeling like your obligations outweigh your enjoyment in life is by focusing your energy and attention toward your existing relationships.

The relationship with self is often overlooked but is easily one of the most important.  Start by recognizing the factors and activities important to you and then consistently make time for them. When you’re happy with your own sense of accomplishment, focus that positivity into more quality time spent with friends and family.  

Healthy social bonds promote a sense of belonging, acceptance, and mental well-being.

Once You’re Balanced, How Do You Maintain It?

Accountability is the most important factor in keeping your life balanced between work and everything else. Some of the mechanisms we use for coping with stress might not be healthy, but they are habitual.  

Likewise, busy routines build behavioural habits that contribute to lack of interaction between family members and weakened relationships. Habits have to be broken and failure is bound to happen from time to time.  

It’s important to discuss changes to your lifestyle with other members of your household so they can offer support, feedback, and help you measure progress. Weekly or monthly family meetings or daily meals together provide an opportunity to discuss the effects that the changes have on everyone involved.  Household members feel considered, respected, and part of the team in working together to implement the solution.

Another way to measure your progress is by keeping a short diary of how you’re feeling each day. Doing so provides insight into changes within yourself over time and is a good way to evaluate and track your success.

How Can You Find Balance at Work?

The notion of proper work-life balance has spread rapidly in recent years, resulting in many companies embracing more flexible policies that would’ve been discarded as unproductive in the past.

These days, employers are realizing the long-term benefits of happy, productive employees and advertising their company culture as part of their benefits packages. The last decade has seen both small and large corporations begin to offer extras like:

  • flex hours and days
  • telecommuting full- or part-time  
  • open-office work environments with collective workgroups
  • on-site cafeterias and daycares
  • employee enrichment activities like picnics and retreats

Southwest Airlines is one company that consistently makes the list of Fortune 500 entities recognized for their positive approach to work-life balance and their WorkPerks package makes that clear. They’ve instituted programs related to health and wellness, positive employee morale, and civic responsibility. Employees that work there have financial incentives for pursuing a healthy lifestyle, opportunities to volunteer in their communities, and even an employee-to-employee gratitude program called SWAG.  

Surprisingly, Chevron is another great example of a company culture. It provides health and fitness centers on site or through health-club memberships. It also gives employees access to other health-oriented programs like massages and personal training. They also consistently insist that employees take regular breaks.

Not surprisingly, Facebook also provides perks that can help employees maintain work-life balance. They provide complementary, stock options, open office space, on-site laundry, and a strong focus on teamwork and open communication.

If you don’t work for a company that provides any of these benefits, it’s worth discussing some work-life balance concepts with your Human Resources Department. While you probably won’t exact immediate change, most employers appreciate feedback and should be willing to discuss how they might make improvements.

Unfortunately, for some people, the reality of their job is that the hours are set, their position doesn’t offer advancement opportunity, and other career paths are not available to them.

Conclusion

If you’re stuck in a position that gives you little control and you don’t have other prospects or options, the best tactic is to incorporate stress-busting activities like exercise, enrichment, and meditation. Reducing your anxiety and focusing on what you accomplish outside of work will help minimize the lack of control you feel at work and shift your focus to other parts of your life.

Finding organisation in the chaos of everyday life can be challenging and change doesn’t usually happen easily, or overnight. In the words of Albert Einstein, “Out of clutter, find simplicity.  From discord, find harmony.  In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity.” Establishing a different balance takes determination, patience, and commitment.  Don’t pass up the opportunity to regain control.

 

[This article was first published on Cornerstone University's website

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The EP Blog

Posted By Liz Sewell FIEP, Get Ready For Work & Belina Consulting, 28 December 2017

Women Returners to Work and what the sector can do to help

At the ERSA Conference in December I attended the ‘Returners to Work’ Breakout session hosted by Elizabeth Taylor, CEO of Bootstrap Enterprises, Caitlin O’Kelly of the Government Equalities Office and Rosie Ferguson, CEO of Gingerbread.  It was inspiring to hear from these women, all committed to making a difference to other people’s lives and I felt very proud to be part of an industry that, despite facing uncertain times with Brexit and with unknown challenges ahead, are driving forward and still thinking of new and innovative ways we can help improve outcomes for people and their families.

Returning to work can be a very daunting prospect, not least because as a society we do not always make it easy for people, particularly women, to return to work. Women are still often the primary carers for children and/or elderly relatives and 1 in 4 families is headed by a single parent. This can cause obstacles and barriers to finding suitable employment and there are many considerations they need to make first such as:

  • How do I access suitable and flexible childcare?
  • What if my child is ill? What do I do about school holidays?
  • How will it affect my benefits?
  • What if English isn’t my first language?

These are all important factors that women need to address and as employability specialists our job is to help support women in finding solutions to these problems and taking them through the practical steps. This is often the easy part! 

Often a bigger barrier many women can have when thinking of returning to work is the way they feel about working. When women are not working they can often feel guilty, isolated and with a reduced sense of worth. Caring for children or relatives often means that their education or training has been interrupted which can lead to reducing their options for work or study. Society even labels people who cannot work due to unpaid caring responsibilities as ‘economically inactive’, suggesting they are simply doing nothing of any value. 

As a sector, we have a job to do to help women build their confidence and self-esteem. Not only do women often feel guilty about not working, they often feel guilty about wanting or needing to work too, due to the change this can have on their family unit.  Belina specialise in confidence building training for returners to work but things like work experience and volunteering can help too. As a sector, we also need to promote the concept of work and the benefits it can bring.  The reason I choose to do the job I do is because I firmly believe that women are better off in work than they are out of work but there is still much to do to engage employers and help them adapt and adjust to improve their offering to women.

Women have a tremendous amount to offer the workforce in terms of their experience, their resilience and their ability to multi-task. Employers have much to benefit from this but they also need to be conscious of the fact that, as main carers their children’s welfare will always be their primary concern. 

In her podcast with FE News, Gingerbread’s Rosie Ferguson made some really important points and suggestions about ways employers can help returners to work highlighting flexibility as one of the areas employers should address and how they can re-assess roles to see if they could be more flexible to accommodate returners to work or parents.  She also mentioned how offering schemes such as the Childcare Deposit scheme can be really attractive to returners to work.

Flexibility in the workplace is key to attracting women returners to work but whilst legislation is in place for people to ask for flexibility this is often quite a difficult thing to do in practice. Employers can help by raising the question themselves in interviews and speaking to women about how they might be best accommodated to fit in with childcare. This alleviates the need for the interviewee to bring the question up themselves and to feel they are being a ‘difficult employee’ from day one.

By thinking through a role in advance Employers can also save themselves money.  Not all roles have to be 35 hours a week, they could potentially be done between 10 and 3 each day.  Employers need to be more creative.

Gingerbread are championing the idea of employers setting up a Deposit Guarantee Scheme where employers lend the upfront cost of childcare in the way they would a Travelcard loan. This would be a great help in taking away some of the initial barriers to returning to work.

It is about time society recognised the contribution women returners to work have to offer and the many skills they have acquired as parents. There are many things employers can do to better accommodate women returners to work and we need them to believe in the benefits they can bring them.  More importantly, we need women to believe in themselves too and the benefits that the right kind of work can bring to them and their families.   

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Careers Strategy Published

Posted By Heather Ette, 13 December 2017

Government’s careers strategy published after two-year wait

The Minister for Skills, Anne Milton, finally launched the Government’s careers strategy at the Career Development Institute’s conference two weeks ago, outlining their plans for tackling the current inconsistencies in provision for both young people and adults.

The Career Development Institute welcomes the Government’s new careers strategy but is disappointed about the lack of support for impartial careers guidance. The strategy includes several measures to improve the careers support for young people in schools and colleges, but it falls short of the ambitions set out by the former Minister responsible for careers, Robert Halfon, to bring greater coherence across the age range and to provide lifelong careers support.

The CDI welcomes the expectations that all schools and colleges should:

  • use the Gatsby benchmarks to review and plan their careers programmes
  • publish details of their careers programme on their website
  • have a named Careers Leader
  • work towards the updated Quality in Careers Standard.

During the past two years the CDI have made a number of recommendations to the DfE and are pleased that some of these have been picked up in the strategy. The Careers & Enterprise Company is to be given a broader remit, to provide support to schools across all eight benchmarks, not just the two that focus on engaging with employers. £5M is to be invested in 20 ‘careers hubs’ to extend the good practice developed through the Gatsby pilot in the North East LEP to other areas of the country, £4M is to be made available to fund training for careers leaders in schools and colleges and a further £2M will be spent on projects to test best practice in primary schools and in work with young people with special educational needs and disabilities. And, not before time, a new National Careers Service website will be developed next year.

The CDI remain concerned, however, at the lack of any measures to improve the quantity and quality of career guidance for individuals. The strategy insists that guidance must be delivered by qualified practitioners but fails to include any incentives for schools to increase the amount of career guidance for pupils or to reverse the worrying decline in the careers adviser workforce. It is not at all clear how young people who, for whatever reason, are no longer in school can access the career guidance they need and neither is there any attention paid to the provision of career guidance to young people on apprenticeships or other work-based training programmes.

A new National Careers Service will be procured by October 2018, with a continued emphasis on support for adults with low qualifications and special needs. The Government will invest in Career Learning Pilots to test ways of engaging adults with low skills in learning. However, we remain a long way from achieving the “careers system that works for everyone” that Robert Halfon wanted. The CDI believes this can only be achieved by establishing the all-age careers guidance service that the Coalition Government promised in November 2010.

The CDI will continue to work with the Government and other partners to implement the new strategy but also continue to press for a truly universal careers service that our young people and adults need to succeed in their careers in the 21st Century.

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Engaging employers in employability and skills programmes

Posted By Dr Jo Ingold, 08 December 2017

Engaging employers in employability and skills programmes

by Dr Jo Ingold (Leeds University Business School)

Employers are critical to the success of employability programmes. But there’s been surprisingly little research about employers’ perspectives about them. Following a survey we conducted of over 1,500 employers in the UK and Denmark, we’ve just carried out more than 100 in-depth interviews with employers and providers delivering employability programmes in both countries.

Employers’ perspectives on employability programmes

Employers were generally positive about employing unemployed candidates but were not so positive about employability programmes, particularly in the UK. A critical difference between the countries was that, while every Danish employer we interviewed had taken part in at least one programme (often in more), among UK employers participation was more sporadic. UK employers were most familiar with apprenticeships above other provision. A key reason for not engaging in programmes was that employers thought there were inappropriate to their needs. They were put off by the large number of programmes and providers, lack of knowledge about them, lack of clarity about their value, and about how to access them. The most popular reasons for engaging were to access an alternative recruitment channel, to develop talent and to ‘give people a chance’.

Critically, employers felt that benefit conditionality and employability programmes could ‘tarnish’ candidates and were dissatisfied about receiving large numbers of job applications as a result of conditionality and entitlement conditions. The lack of a tailored service could sometimes resulted in employers being sent candidates who were of ‘poor quality’, unsuitable, or ill-prepared.

Employers were generally positive about employing disabled people, although only a small number of UK employers had done so, and not necessarily through employability programmes. In Denmark the Flexjobs scheme for disabled people (offering subsidized jobs under special conditions, in-work support and reduced working hours) was popular with employers. Importantly, in both countries very few employers had made changes to their recruitment and selection processes to encourage candidates from disadvantaged groups, despite recognising the shortcomings of the standard application and interview method.

UK employers didn’t feel that employability programmes were designed with their needs in mind and, compared with Danish employers, UK employers had very low trust in public policies. This left more ‘gaps’ to be filled by providers through the development of ‘inter-personal’ relationships with employers, based on trust. But, although these relationships were critical to employer engagement, they were also fragile. Once relationships between employers and providers were established, their ongoing management was critically important and UK employers particularly liked having a ‘single point of contact’.

Policy recommendations

  • In their current form, programmes are not working very effectively for employers. Employers still lack knowledge about programmes, do not recognise their potential benefits and consider them inappropriate to their needs.
  • A smaller number of programmes with more continuity and stability but less complexity and fragmentation would make it easier for employers to engage.
  • Changes need to be made to avoid employers receiving large numbers of job applications from benefit claimants in order to fulfil conditionality requirements, as this is damaging to employers’ views of initiatives. A critical aspect of this is better targeting of applications to employers.
  • Devolution is a critical opportunity to improve employer engagement in the design and implementation of initiatives and to devise programmes that are responsive to local needs.
  • More employers need to be equipped with information about ways to make their recruitment and selection processes more inclusive and effective.
  • To maximise resources and to provide a better service to employers, we need more mechanisms for sharing evidence-based good practice across different providers, programmes, cohorts and areas.

Dr Jo Ingold, Lecturer in Human Resource Management and Public Policy, Leeds University Business School.

This research was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. More information about the research can be found here.

The final research report will be launched on 13 December 2017 at an event in Westminster for policymakers, practitioners and academics. More information about the event can be found here.

 

 

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