HELPING JOB SEEKERS AND FILLING THE SKILLS GAP IN EAST ANGLIA

Julia Nix OBE, Department for Work and Pensions

If you’re recruiting engineers in East Anglia, Jobcentre Plus should be your first point of call, that’s the message from Julia Nix OBE.

Recognising a shortage of skilled engineers in the region, and nationally Julia’s teams in Jobcentres have worked on a range of initiatives to make sure that firms can get access to good people at the right time.

Julia is chair of the recently formed Thetford Partnership Action Group which was set up to find solutions to employers’ recruitment issues. One of their first outputs is the work to support a local engineering project.

“We worked in partnership with West Suffolk College, Warren Services and Haas machinery and technology, arranged to fund and deliver a pilot program for people who were seeking employment, to train as CNC operators and setters. The only prerequisite was an interest in engineering,” said Julia.

The opportunity was advertised in Jobcentres across East Anglia and jobseekers from a range of backgrounds applied. Applicants were carefully picked to go through the selection process. No formal qualifications were required apart from the ability to read measurements, alongside a willingness and desire to learn.

“Me and my teams are passionate about helping people find their career path and we’re always looking to build links with local businesses. Work experience and apprenticeships are incredibly valuable ways to get into a career, but they also work for employers looking out for the right people in their businesses.”

Jobcentres have been working extensively with employers across East Anglia to secure work experience and apprenticeships opportunities for people of all ages. Richard Bridgman of Warren Services has been very open to taking on young people and adults alike, firmly believing this is the best approach to training the future workforce. Richard said that “Having embraced work experience in my company for a number of years, we feel that it has been both invaluable for the individual and the whole company”.

DWP has recently seconded a member of Jobcentre staff to a local charitable careers service, Icanbea. This is a web-based service aimed at young people and employers across Norfolk and Suffolk, which enables ‘young people to visibly see hidden industries and allows employers to visibly see hidden young people’. “We have also been providing training which enables jobseekers with no qualifications to get into engineering or web-based careers,” Julia added.

Net Matters is another business that has been working to train jobseekers for a career. DWP has funded an 8 week ‘essentials’ module to help them break in to work in web technology. The modules are tailored to the needs of each individual. Graduates of the scheme have now secured highly skilled full-time permanent employment.

DWP is there to help employers with practical support and advice about recruitment, including:

  • specialist advisers who understand businesses’ recruitment needs and the local labour market
  • help with the design and wording of your job vacancy
  • help developing pre-employment training (specific to your job requirements) for people that need it
  • suggesting new ways for your business to recruit to reach the widest pool of talent
  • creating development opportunities for your existing employees – mentoring people who want to work
  • an aftercare service after you’ve recruited someone

It’s easy to get help;
Employer Services Line Telephone: 0800 169 0178
Textphone: 0800 169 0172
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm