The Scottish employment scheme helping hundreds into work
By Thames Menteth-Wheelwright, HACT Housing Communications Intern
A groundbreaking programme to tackle unemployment and poverty in some of Scotland’s most deprived communities has created nearly 800 jobs and training opportunities in its first year.
Wheatley Works, which was launched in April 2018 by the Scottish Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, Jamie Hepburn, has helped 646 people into educational, training or work experience opportunities. Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Aileen Campbell also recently visited Wheatley to mark its first year of success.
The employability programme provides Wheatley customers with the skills, work experience and confidence they need to apply for jobs in the wider labour market and to access opportunities created by Wheatley Group, its contractors and suppliers. Wheatley Works helps customers try out placements, trades skills tasters and other options to help them become work ready.
As the charitable Trust of Wheatley Group, Wheatley Foundation was set up in 2016 to help alleviate the impacts of poverty and maximise training and employment opportunities for Wheatley customers and communities, many of whom live in the most disadvantaged areas of Scotland. Wheatley Foundation invested £450,000 in Wheatley Works in its first year, supported by a £100,000 investment from the Scottish Government’s Empowering Communities Programme, aiming to create 1200 opportunities by 2020.
Customers who might require different levels of training, core skills and confidence-building before moving into work can be assisted to navigate their path while dealing with potential barriers such as money issues, caring responsibilities and transitions to Universal Credit.
According to Helen Scott, Evaluation Manager at Wheatley Foundation, Wheatley Works succeeds because it enables Wheatley Group staff to connect their customers looking for work with a co-ordinated programme and a team offering one-to-one mentoring and support. She said: “Wheatley Works acts as a bridge to employment opportunities for frontline staff and our partners, to help customers make the most of their potential and be able to take up and maintain workplace opportunities.”
“The Wheatley Works team are really supportive and can chat through the best options with customers while taking a mentoring approach. They work together with customers to tackle issues related to health, confidence and financial barriers.”
Wheatley Works offers a range of different programmes suitable for people of all ages, who may have not worked before, or just need a chance to gain some experience and confidence. Opportunities created so far include 162 jobs, 185 apprenticeships and 441 new training places, including short pre-employability courses, 12-month neighbourhood environmental maintenance placements and new entry-level roles in growth areas such as childcare.
Foundation Chairman, Sir Harry Burns said, “Jobs are being created, but the fact is that many people of working age in Wheatley homes are still out of work as they are not always ready to take up these roles. The Group is tackling this by creating this exciting new work-readiness programme which helps tenants needing support to develop the skills and confidence to take advantage of the employment opportunities available to them.”