WREC has delivered the Employability Skills Programme (ESP) since 2016 as a sub-contractor to ITEC Skills. We deliver various courses for unemployed participants with referrals from JCP Advisors in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot.
In 2018 the Welsh Government identified a need for the provision to be made available to participants who are currently engaging with the Probation Service. We welcomed the opportunity to work with this cohort of customer and have worked closely with Offender Managers and Welsh Government to develop a strand of ESP that would provide successful outcomes for this sector.
“The service that Whitehead-Ross provides is invaluable to some of our service users as employment and building on skills is such a big factor in helping individuals focus on something positive in their lives. Les is flexible and accommodating and is always willing to meet and take on a new referral, offering them support from the get go. I have had many cases who have benefited from a CSCS card and also more specific intervention such as advice around starting a business. It would be difficult to get cases into working towards employment without Whitehead Ross.”
April Jones, Probation Officer
As part of this delivery we put a focus on short qualifications and upskilling, as well as developing confidence, transferable skills and working closely with employers to identify suitable opportunities. We streamlined our referral process to ensure that any participants who had been identified as suitable for the programme could access the provision, and unlike many other providers of similar programmes we do not have restrictions around offences. This process has ensured that we have been able to provide support to a wider group of individuals, and this has resulted in some excellent outcomes.
Due to the ongoing success and positive feedback we are now delivering this service across three probation offices in Wales as well as our Training Centre in Swansea. Since 2018 we have worked with 229 participants and 65 of these have gained and sustained employment. Over 85% have gained a qualification, which has helped them into employment or moved them closer to the job market.
“Whitehead-Ross Education has attended Llanelli Probation Office every Wednesday afternoon to assist with employment training support for offenders. During this time WREC has supported several service users by assisting them with the completion of CVs and job applications. You have also helped several members of the group to obtain CSCS cards and health and safety in construction certificates. This has resulted in employment for some service users which is a great achievement and aids desistence. The group has also helped a lot of the attendees to gain confidence that will enable them to return to the workplace. You have a way about you where you can reach some of our hardest to reach service users and motivate them to change their lives whether through training, education, employment or voluntary work. The work and time you give us is greatly appreciated.”
Nicola Price, Offender Manager
Llanelli Probation Office
The majority of participants that engage with us as part of this programme have significant and multiple barriers. Our approach is very individualised in order to meet the differing needs and abilities. As well as employment and qualifications, we provide support with a diverse range of interventions, such as:
• Benefits and Housing
• Volunteering and work experience
Our Employability Officers who work with this cohort have extensive experience of working within the justice system and are dedicated to the work they do in this sector. We continuously upskill staff on processes and procedures and work together with Offender Managers to look at innovative and meaningful support to continuously improve the programme.
“From speaking to service users, your intervention is not only a productive use of their time, but also gives them hope and ideas on how they may shape their own pathway. Some of my cases did not have CVs until attending and finding out about, and being able to access avenues for CSCS cards, and college courses gives them a positive focus in an otherwise dire environment. It does help to shift their perception of being in the probation office; rather than as a punishment or inconvenience, it is perceived as real rehabilitation and options for a better future. I very much welcome having the partnership agency on site as I know many of my cases will not go to a different venue. They feel comfortable with what they know, and the fear of engaging with a different agency, and a different venue can sometimes be too much, and so they don’t engage at all.”
Nicola Collins, Probation Officer
For more details about this programme, please call 01273 281981 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org