One of the perks of my job is working with great people from the UK employability industry. I’m so often reminded that the best people, both inside and outside of Capita, don’t just ‘work’ in employability – they live and breathe it.
They genuinely care about getting people into jobs that are right for them: not just in the short term but in the long-term and not just to improve their lives but those of their families and wider communities – our communities.
Earlier this year I chaired the first of Capita’s four Health & Welfare National Advisory Panel sessions, bringing together a truly unrivalled group of experts from within and outside of our organisation. That first session focused around the impactful work we’re delivering in Scotland with the JETS programme, the need for jobseekers to feel hope and be motivated, and the crucial role that job coaches play in the long-term success of all employability programmes.
Our most recent session was centred around data – or the lack thereof in many ways. For example, the knowledge gaps around job differences being filled by white and BAME job seekers, or those with both hidden and visible disabilities. Despite multiple organisations analysing this, a collective view of this data simply doesn’t exist and this is a key problem for us all.
We discussed the huge challenge that is youth unemployment, specifically the ever-increasing gaps in diversity and how employability programmes can - and must - be widened to reach more diverse pools of talent. Participants also considered how the disbursement of government programmes across multiple regions made quality and consistency extremely difficult to manage. For example, Scott Parkin from the Institute of Employability Professionals shared that some of his organisations’ programmes couldn’t be delivered in parts of the UK, guaranteeing an inconsistency of learning and training.
Toni Fazaeili raised her concern that, due to the pandemic many 15-18 year-olds have simply lost out on much of their childhood and development over the past 18 months so there’s now an even greater need to help young employees entering the world of work to integrate their skills, training and development with their personal wellbeing and mental health. She highlighted the work being undertaken in Leicester city centre, where employment hubs are being established that allow young workers from various organisations to get together, share best practice, and collaborate. The thinking behind these is partly that, with the rise in remote and home working, employees entering the world of work are missing out on the learnings and mentorship from senior colleagues.
On a highly positive note, Kate Nash discussed the pandemic’s constructive impact on disability employability, and how thousands of disabled employees are today in a better place following lockdown. We must of course continue this momentum and support employers to build on the new-found realisation that working from home is no longer impractical nor difficult. With many disabled people now feeling more confident both in their current roles, and in applying for jobs they never would have traditionally considered, this new ‘attitude’ across employers and workers is one that must be nurtured and encouraged as we tiptoe out of the pandemic and into the new normal.