Getting ready for work: Business Challenge Day

Statistically, unemployed service users are twice as likely to re-offend as those with a job. With 55% of our caseload being unemployed, it’s vital for us to help service users build their confidence and skillset to get back into employment and away from any temptation to re-offend.

“I witnessed employers positively changing attitudes to employing service users.”

The Business Challenge Day

Thames Valley Community Rehabilitation Company’s Education, Training and Employment (ETE) team support service users who have been identified as needing specific help to get into training or employment. One of the creative ways they have done this is by organising a Business Challenge Day in which service users and employers worked together in groups to develop business ideas on the topic of construction and maintenance. The ultimate aim was to give service users an opportunity to meet local employers, and for the employers to speak to individuals who were actively looking for work.

Preparing for the challenge

Having secured a number of employers, including outsourced facilities management company Mitie, who were keen to be involved in the day, our ETE team prepared our service users for the challenge. This involved helping them to update their CVs, obtain Construction Skills Certification Cards, and overall to build their confidence.

The team also promoted the event to HMP Springhill who arranged for a number of individuals who were still in custody to attend on day-leave. Places were also offered to the National Probation Service’s service users.

Dispelling myths

With 18 employers and 22 service users attending, including 2 prisoners on day-leave from HMP Springhill, the day was a great success. All service users who attended achieved an Open College Network Business Challenge Level 1 qualification, and were guaranteed an interview for roles within Mitie.

“I did not feel discriminated against. We were given the opportunity to interface with employers and participate in the challenge to encourage confidence and team building.”

Service users gained confidence by interacting and working with employers, helping them prepare for regular employment. On the other side of the table, employers were able to see that service users could be good fits for vacancies within their companies, dispelling any preconceived notions. We ensured service users and employers were well-matched, in terms of skills and open opportunities, so that conversations would be fruitful.

“By the end of the day, employers and candidates were swapping contact details.”

Since the Business Challenge Day, six of the 20 attendees have secured permanent employment, inspired and motivated by the experience they had.

Find out more

Contact ETE Intervention Manager, Sarah Mayson for more information on our Employment, Training and Education interventions: sarah.mayson@thamesvalleycrc.org.uk

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