Ballymun Accredited Skills & Work Taster Programme
In August 2012, Ballymun Whitehall Area Partnership initiated and designed the Accredited Skills Development & Work Taster Programme. The initiative, delivered in partnership with Ballymun Jobs Centre and local businesses, provided local beneficiaries with accredited general learning, a work taster of interest, career guidance and management and the opportunity of gaining employment / placement.
The programme was developed in response to an identified need for the local population in Ballymun where there remains a high concentration of long-term unemployed people.
Individuals within this cohort may not have the confidence, self-knowledge, occupational knowledge, decision making skills and / or may face environmental and practical problems impeding them in their progression into the labour market.
Long term unemployed people, by definition, have few qualifications and limited job experience to record on their CV and job applications. Employers receive large numbers of applications for each vacancy and approach their recruitment process by selecting candidates for interview based on relevant qualifications and experience. Partnership clients tend to be eliminated at this stage and are not selected for interview. This initiative sought to find a way to give long term unemployed people, who have the competencies but not the qualifications or experience, the opportunity to be assessed by the Partnership, meet the employer and receive work experience on the job, allowing the employer to establish whether they have the competencies to fill the post.
The programme was designed to encompass the three key areas for all national labour market programmes – activation, up-skilling and participation. Activation, through creating a progression pathway from accredited training through to work experience and, it is hoped, employment; Up-skilling, providing accredited training at a basic level to support individuals with the key skills required to access clerical roles within local business and; Participation, targeting the furthest removed from the labour market, individuals from a Rapid area and unemployed greater than one year.
The programme was delivered in three stages
- An accredited General Skills course/FETAC level 3;
- Placement into a work experience component and;
- Continued career guidance and personal development.
Access to an accredited General Skills course/FETAC level 3
The project beneficiaries undertook three core modules from the FETAC level 3 General Skills Course: Word processing, Spreadsheets and Communications.
Placement into a work experience component
Beneficiaries were placed with local employers to gain practical experience and a real life work simulation to access work culture, relationships and face the reality of managing a 9-5 job. The needs and requirements of individuals were matched with the available placements in the local area. The Work Tasters enabled employers to try out unemployed people in a particular job for up to 4 weeks, whilst the person remained entitled to benefits. The aim was that the Work Taster would encourage employers to consider long term unemployed people for vacant posts and to see how they get on in the post before deciding whether to take them on permanently.
Through the placement employers could gauge beneficiary performance prior to deciding whether to employ them. From partaking in the project the beneficiaries received work experience and the opportunity to regain confidence, self-worth and, it is hoped, the urge to be part of an organisation. It is an opportunity that beneficiaries from an area of social exclusion, would not be able to avail of through traditional recruitment pathways.
Continued career guidance and personal development
After the placement, the beneficiaries continued to engage with their guidance staff for assessment and discussion on their experience. The beneficiaries were informed of either a position within the local employer organisation directly or via an internship as a result from the work experience. However, where the opportunity did not arise, guidance staff facilitated the beneficiary to assess other training or local placements to suit the individual’s needs.