Employment and the creation of solid job opportunities for people at all stages of their lives and careers were top of the agenda recently at a meeting of East Ayrshire Council’s newly elected Cabinet.
East Ayrshire Council’s Economic Development Employability team has an impressive track record in liaising with local employers, training providers, Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), Skills Development Scotland (SDS) and backed by £7.3m of funding from the EU since 2016. And this Cabinet update outlines the successes and future plans to provide valuable, long term jobs with good career prospects for East Ayrshire’s growing workforce.
Youth employment is a particular priority for the team. Working with Education and Vibrant Communities colleagues, they provide job coaching and referrals to ensure a positive transition from school to the workplace. With a full toolkit of programmes offering work placements and job search techniques, school pupils are guided through the process.
For many, Modern Apprenticeship schemes, giving a mix of work and on the job or college based training, and industry approved nationally accredited SVQ qualifications are the ideal solution, allowing them to work, learn and earn simultaneously. Modern Apprenticeships, are available with fully-funded training to young people aged 16-29. Beyond that age, employers can still take on Modern Apprentices, however they must meet the training costs.
In the past two years 65 Modern Apprentices have supported by East Ayrshire, of whom 88% have completed their qualifications and 86% have gone on to find full time, permanent employment either within the Council or the private sector.
For people with additional needs, such as a learning disability, mental health issues or an acquired brain injury, the Supported Employment Programme develops for them to work 16 hours a week or more, either in the council or in placements with local employers.
And at the other end of the scale, for established workers made redundant, sometimes after many years with an organisation, the Employability Fund Programme enables the team to offer flexible support and training with the aim of allowing individuals to retrain, update skills and get back into work as quickly as possible.
Since 2015, 200 people have been through this programme. Of these people 30% got new qualifications, 15% entered Higher Education, 20% gained new jobs and the rest have continued to receive specialised support from the employability team.
Key to the service is a personalised approach, with work coaches liaising with employers and employees to help them access the funding, resources and support needed to enable them to retrain or take on unemployed East Ayrshire residents. They can arrange training support, wage subsidies, and job brokerage to ease the process of recruitment, selection, retraining and retaining staff.
Councillor Jim Roberts, Cabinet Member for Economy and Infrastructure, East Ayrshire Council said: “Matching people with solid, well paid jobs with prospects doesn’t just benefit the individual. For employers, having well trained, reliable staff brings success, progress and growth, and for the individuals concerned, having a worthwhile, well supported job with decent conditions in a thriving environment means more than just money. It gives people a future, self esteem, stability and helps the entire community and local economy.
“That’s why the work of our Economic Development Team is so crucial to the lives of everyone in East Ayrshire. The employability specialists are there to help people of any age, providing opportunities and support to train or retrain, gain confidence and find suitable jobs.
“Working with employers too, they’re able to help with recruitment, selection, training, identifying exactly what an employer needs and taking them through the whole process, helping them access funding and training to enable them to employ the people they need. The team has worked with businesses of all sizes and from all sectors with an impressive and continuing success rate. In 2015/6 alone, 683 people found jobs as a result of the team’s activities.
“In all of this, partnership working with Skills Development Scotland, DWP and other organisations has been crucial. They all collaborate on the www.eastayrshireworks.co.uk website which gives access to news and opportunities. Going forward they’re planning to develop employability hubs in Kilmarnock and outreach services across East Ayrshire to bring these services together, under one roof, providing a one stop shop for clients and employers to smooth the path into employment.”
For more information about the services provided by East Ayrshire Council’s Economic Development Team, please contact:
Telephone: 01563 503000