The Employment initiative “Let’s Work”, funded by the Social Investment Fund (SIF) under the Delivering Social Change framework, has helped 47 people gain employment in 2020. The programme, which commenced in October 2019, received £1.68m investment from SIF to help address employment related issues in areas of socio-economic need across Northern Ireland. The programme sought to widen access to jobs, improve skill levels and increase personal confidence.
Carrickfergus Enterprise provides strategic leadership to the scheme with employability specialists, Network Personnel taking forward the operational delivery of training and placement provision. The project is set tocomplete by March 2021 and by that time will have successfully placed 160 participants from the top 10% or 20% socially disadvantaged areas including: Larne, Ballymena, Carrickfergus, Newtownabbey, Antrim, Coleraine, Magherafelt, Cookstown, Moyle and Ballymoney into paid placements.
These placement opportunities are tailored and relevant to the chosen career path of the participants. Additionally many have achieved training, mentoring and accredited qualifications to further their career prospects.
Despite the impact of the pandemic on the host businesses, with many having to close their doors to adhere to government guidelines, 76% of participants who have completed placement have remained in employment. Host businesses offering placements are from varying sectors including; manufacturing, IT, hospitality, Health & Social Care, gaming design and construction.
Manager of Carrickfergus Enterprise, Kelli McRoberts said: “The pandemic presented a unique challenge to the viability of the Let’s Work project. Due to the first lockdown in late March, many host businesses had to close their doors, therefore placements ceased. As normality was beginning to return during the summer months, a number of placements restarted, and the programme was back to full capacity from August.
“We are really pleased with progression of the programme despite the challenges of Covid-19. A big thank you goes to all the host businesses without whom success would not have been possible Let’s Work funding offers a flexible approach that has been particularly vital with the Covid pandemic.It is tailored to the suit the individual needs of the participants skills and host employers.Many participants are given an opportunity to increase their skills through on the job training and mentoring support which they would not normally be able to access due to several barriers.This project has already made positive changes to people’s lives and it is contributing towards addressing some of the key barriers in employment.”
Alex McKee from Network Personnel adds: The Covid pandemic presented unforeseen challenges for all stakeholders. We extremely proud of how the Let’s Work delivery team was able to work alongside participants and placement hosts to ensure the best possible outcome for all parties. We have been particularly impressed by the flexibility and resilience of the project’s participants during these challenging times. We look forward to celebrating the further employment success stories that the project will produce in the coming weeks and months, bearing in mind the ripple effect that each job has upon each participant’s family and wider community.