A South Cumbria training business is playing its part to help people facing multiple and complex barriers to move towards employment.
Skills Shop Limited has been running courses for participants in The Building Better Opportunities Getting Cumbria to Work (BBO GCtW) project, which supports people in the Barrow and South Lakes area aged 18 and above, who are either unemployed or economically inactive and are furthest removed from the labour market.
The Barrow-based company ran a successful face-to-face Emergency First Aid at Work course for BBO GCtW participants prior to the coronavirus pandemic lockdown and has since responded swiftly to the challenges posed by the pandemic by creating and delivering a bespoke online Conflict Management course. This session has allowed BBO GCtW participants to continue to learn and develop skills despite the lockdown which not only improves their employability, but also their personal development.
A total of 25 people accessed the two courses.
Project Manager Natalia Wealleans-Turner said: “Phil and his team designed the Conflict Management course for us so that participants can log in and work at their own pace which is perfect during this challenging period. Many participants are managing multiple stresses, such as home-schooling children, caring duties and increased levels of anxiety linked to coronavirus and so having the option to complete this at their own pace has been fantastic for them.”
The course has enhanced participants’ communication skills and their ability to problem solve, especially in circumstances they might come across in a workplace environment. Participants attending the course reported a sense of accomplishment and noted improved confidence in dealing with challenging situations.
“The Conflict Management course teaches participants how to become more assertive and empathise with others,” said Mr Newton.
“The course focuses a lot on understanding people’s beliefs, behaviours and the importance of communication, helping people build relationships quicker. By empathising more with others, people are more likely to remain calm during a discussion and look at things in a balanced manner.”
Mr Newton explained why he liked to do work with the third sector and projects such as BBO GCtW. “One of our core values is to give back to local communities. We do this in various ways, for example, by providing first aid workshops for pupils at schools and self-defence workshops for charities helping women. For me it is about the satisfaction of being able to help others simply because it is the right thing to do.”
Skills Shop Limited has also been commissioned to deliver Health and Safety in the Workplace and First Aid for Mental Health courses for BBO GCtW project, along with a bespoke course in positive thinking to support BBO GCtW participants’ ongoing mental health and well-being during lock-down.
Mr Newton explained why completing courses could help make participants more employable. “If you had two candidates going for an interview and they looked identical on paper, the one with a first aid qualification would be more likely to get the job as the employer would also be gaining a qualified first aider for free.”
Ms Wealleans-Turner said: “We work with the business sector and use its skills and experience to support our participants to develop personally and to increase their employability skills as well as supporting local businesses to better understand and respond to the barriers and needs of local people seeking employment.
“We work with Skills Shop because they represent value for money, have an excellent understanding of our participants’ needs, the area and the voluntary sector. Phil Newton and his team are trained to identify safeguarding, issues and are experienced at engaging with people who have varying levels of education, health and social need.”
She also said: “The Emergency First Aid at Work course was particularly valuable as it gave participants new skills and in particular a qualification which is useful to employers across a range of sectors, including catering, hospitality, health and social care – all of which enabled participants to increase their employability and take steps towards the labour market.”
Any businesses which want to become involved delivering services to BBO GCtW participants can get in touch via email [email protected] or visit the BBO GCtW website www.gettingcumbriatowork.org.uk or to ring Paula Johnson on 07776 593795.