Tim gained good GCSEs at school but pressure to do well in subsequent years saw him lose confidence and motivation and eventually lose interest in anything. Unemployed, he joined a Prince’s Trust programme in 2009, where he rebuilt his confidence and completed City & Guilds qualifications in Problem-Solving, Personal Development and Contributing to the Community. Tim completed work experience at Acorn Computer Recycling and further IT and general training, which led to permanent employment and progression to Shop Manager and Community Engagement Co-ordinator.
On a voluntary basis, Tim also provides computer training in the community, helps local businesses build their websites and, as a Community Learning Champion, has so far helped 40 people complete a computer course. In addition he is an Ambassador for the Prince’s Trust, giving presentations to raise awareness of their work. Tim said, “I want to carry on with my skills and training development programme and help promote the importance of learning to others and how it can turn your life around.”
Vicky had always struggled with literacy and was terrified at the thought of using a computer. Living in a remote village, she felt very isolated with no transport and no access to the Internet at home.
With two children in primary school, she was desperate to improve her skills to help with their education. She began attending Thursday morning computer group sessions at her local pub “The George.” After working through ‘myguide’ computer courses, she obtained her certificate. Her confidence boosted, she is now studying entry level 2 IT with City & Guilds, and Skills for Life level 1 in Literacy.
Vicky’s enthusiasm to learn is infectious. She distributes posters around her village to advertise pub computer sessions and inspires people to come along. Learning has transformed her life. Her mastery of Internet skills means she no longer feels isolated, and she has volunteered to help run the classes.
“Looking back to last July I would never ever have believed anyone if they had told me what I can now do,” she says.
DBBC uses broadcasting to raise self-confidence and self-esteem in students of all ages and abilities and offers free, accredited training open to all. From its small beginnings in 1999, the project now offers three accredited courses: First Steps in Radio offering entry levels 1 and 2, Media Techniques in Radio at entry level 3 and levels 1 and 2, and Advanced Radio Presentation Skills at level 2.
Students learn practical broadcasting skills, including health and safety, handling equipment, recording techniques, sound editing and working with others to produce a radio show. Modules are suited to students’ academic levels, and learners can take as long as they like to complete a course. The project is very successful – it recently trained its 1000th student – and it has won two National Training Awards.
Some learners have gone on to become professional broadcasters, while many others have found jobs in other sectors. The project has also helped many young people to return to mainstream education, and has given retired and disabled people new meaning to their lives.
The Faith Regen Foundation is a Musliminspired, multi-faith national charity which works in the employment sector to secure sustainable jobs for the most disadvantaged individuals, including ethnic minorities and women. It has a strong track record of achieving targets and outcomes to ensure positive change.
The organisation’s ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) project is based in Tower Hamlets, one of the UK’s poorest boroughs, which has a large South Asian population. Many of its members have gone through their lives without speaking English. The project’s aim is to break down social barriers, isolation and poverty. It has improved social mobility, enhanced social cohesion and helped people to lead fully assimilated lives. One of its most striking achievements is in the numbers of Bengali women – an often overlooked section of society – who attend courses.
Originally the project’s target was to engage 56 people, but it has already reached double this number. Staff also work hard with local businesses to gain work experience places and routes into full-time work for learners. Approximately 90 individuals have gone on to get jobs, 66 of whom secured long-term employment.
Merseylearn is the product of a ground-breaking partnership between Merseytravel and a number of trade unions, to support the development of skills in the transport sector. Supported by unionlearn, Merseytravel set up workplace learning centres, employed dedicated tutors in Skills for Life and ICT, and created a network of trained Union Learning Representatives.
Merseytravel’s flexible approach allows learners on different shifts to access tutor support at weekends and overnight. 96 per cent of staff have reached level 2 or above, with 53 per cent at level 3 or above. This learning culture has reduced sickness and complaints, boosted morale, increased internal promotions and boosted the organisation’s reputation as a skills champion. Merseytravel has become the first public sector organisation to receive Investors in People Champion status. Merseylearn also works with GoSkills, transport’s Sector Skills Council, to upskill other transport staff. Taxi and bus qualifications have been delivered in partnership with commercial providers, with over 6,000 drivers gaining recognised qualifications.
The organisation also has a trained team who deliver Next Step information, advice and guidance to staff and those across the sector, improving access to learning and career development opportunities and supporting employment.