Inspira project funding leads to job success

In this blog, Deputy Area Manager for Inspira,  Chris Gibson, explains how  £10,000 project funding awarded by Cumbria Housing Partners has achieved positive success in supporting local people into employment; and why training more people in construction is vital to the future of Cumbria.

“According to the Cumbria Observatory – construction is the fourth largest employer in Cumbria, with over two thousand people working within the industry.

During a  networking event I struck up a conversation with Lesley Dixon from Cumbria Housing Partners (CHP), we discussed the work we do at Inspira with unemployed adults and the many ways in which we support them on their journey back into employment. CHP  work in the social housing sector and as part of adding social value, they are involved in creating jobs and apprenticeships for those living homes managed by local  housing associations.

Cumbria Housing Partners set up  a fund to provide grants to community and voluntary organisations running projects aimed at improving people’s employability or education. Cumbria Community Foundation manage this fund. Part of the criteria for consideration are activities which provide advice and guidance, support and engage people in their local community – a natural fit for Inspira.

With construction a key employment sector in West Cumbria, and social housing and creating jobs a core focus for CHP – a pre-employment programme for construction in Allerdale and Copeland was created. Utilising Inspira’s experience of combining hands on, vocational training with classroom based employability skills workshops we applied for funding and were successful.

The project was up and running early in 2018 . Candidates were assessed to understand their strengths and weaknesses, which resulted in a skills action plan being developed, candidate’s CVs were updated, interview skills honed.  The candidates were also supported in understanding how to search for jobs, in theory and in practice.

The vocational element was built around a ‘Health and Safety in Construction’ course, followed by a Construction Skills Certification Scheme which enables candidates to work safely on a construction site. Further to this, training was given which led to T1 and 2 certificates, allowing those qualified to work as part of highways and road works teams thereby further increasing their chances of employment.

The first course ran in Workington,  with fourteen local unemployed people attending. The second took place in Whitehaven during March with fifteen people attending. The course was quite intensive and lasted fifteen full days. We received excellent feedback with all attendees gaining a worthwhile experience.

As part of the pre-employment programme, employers with live vacancies were identified including TSO Labouring, Street Wise and Best Connections. Each of these employers now employ participants from the course.

To date, of the 29 people who have completed the pre-employment programme, six have gone into employment and a further ten have registered with various agencies. The participants who have successfully found work were also supported with Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). Inspira continues to support the reminder with applications and job searches.”