Engaging with long term ubnemployed age 45 plus
I work within the employability sector in Dundee, we are looking for ways to engage with people age 45 and upwards who are long term unemployed. Currently people can choose to come to us as we are a voluntary service however I have found that people are reluctant to come to yet another employability service so it is proving difficult to break down barriers. Can anyone give me ideas of what has worked for your services?
This is something on which I have reflected and think that when attempting to engage with people in this age group,in an employability context,you are asking people who,in all probability, have deep and rich experience as well as highly developed skills to expose themselves to all the insecurities implicit in the novice role. This would be difficult for anyone. Their experience and skills may not stem from occupational activity but it is very likely that there is a field of human activity in which they feel as if they can act or speak with confidence.
If you can work out what this is and offer them the chance to engage in meaningful activity which allows them to demonstrate their knowledge or skill or even better put it to good use. You will enable them to engage with dignity.
Men's sheds are good at this as are music groups, gardening / DIY / craft groups etc. I think that what long term unemployed people desire most is the opportunity to feel useful. One thing I think you must resist is the temptation to talk to them about C.V'S, Job Interviews / applications etc until they are ready.
It is their decision to make as to when they are ready to do that.
People in this position have been knocked back so many times it is not surprising that they are averse to further reinforcement of the idea they have nothing of value to contribute. It is also very likely that,if they are long term unemployed,they will have been required to take part in various employability programs previously that included CV writing, job applications etc.
If you can provide people with the opportunity to make incremental progress toward meaningful achievement they are more likely to develop the sense of agency which is so important to us all.
Having said all this, would like to implement it more effectively myself.
I would like to thank you for your thoughtful reply which I have shared with my team. Improving employability for adults 50+yrs is a current service priority here in the Borders. Your email reminds us all of the core principles of social practice, learner-centred and above all, dignity which I think it is all too easy to overlook sometimes.
I would be very interested to find out what work has been done in the borders as this is also a priority area for us at the moment. Would you mind if I sent you an email to discuss this?
Very happy for you to email and we can discuss. This is a new priority for our Strategic Partnership, so I can't say we have got this cracked. We are actively seeking ways of improving what we are doing on this over the next 3 years, so very happy to enter into a dialogue about this.
Hi Alan I am very aware of the excellent approach you take in your work and have enjoyed the opportunities in the past when we have been able to work together. In 2008 when on placement with Volunteer Centre Angus I gave Theresa May ( the then Home Secretary) a tour round the centre and spoke about an approach where we were building people's social skills and reason/ purpose to reengage with life again after knock backs in their lives where sometimes they had no control. At the time Theresa seemed very interested and agreed with much of what I was saying. How time flies eh, that was ten years ago. Keep up the good work you do with a fantastic group/groups of folks, you give them so much to keep going through very trying times.
Good to hear from you. I had intended to get back to this forum previously in order to highlight the work undertaken by the IT4Work project which is part of the Adult Learning section at Dundee City. It is staffed by IT tutors and as the name suggests addresses the needs of participants specifically in relation to job-search. This also encompasses IT requirements for claiming benefits and fulfilling claimant commitments. As you may imagine many of the participants are over 45. This work is invaluable as it takes a lot of the stress out of that process which must be terrifying when you have no IT skills and your minimal income is dependent on you acquiring them. The tutors are really excellent and we (CLD Adult Learning Workers) work closely with them to facilitate life wide learning and personal development. More info at the link below.
This specific set of IT skills become an urgent learning need in order to fulfill claimant commitments and while it is not the ideal way of engaging with people, it does allow us to make contact with people we wouldn't otherwise. The great thing is that people then go on to use these skills in ways that are emancipatory and enriching in all the ways we know IT is. It certainly enables people to participate in local democracy e.g. Dundee Decides and loads of other things.
IT4Work is particularly good at engaging with unemployed people who are over 45 and I would strongly recommend contacting them, for more info, if this is what you aim to do.
Thank you for your kind words Jim. Hope to see you soon.
We (CLDS) run a weekly IT drop in mainly (but not always) for older learners. This is to support absolute beginners/ improvers to learn basic skills. We do have learners who are long term unemployed and need skills to job search, fill out online forms etc. As many of the users in this category lack confidence in IT and feel digitally isolated we find that this can be a good first step to improve confidence and address feelings of isolation and loneliness whether they are actively looking for work or not . Because it is skills based learners can leave feeling more positive. There is also a social element to the drop in and all learners and other community members are invited to stay for a home made soup lunch.
Thank you for all your responses so far, you have definitely provided some food for thought. I really appreciate you all taking the time to respond.
Allan, I completely agree with everything you have said and I would really like to change how our own service works to one which is more person centred and looks at the assets individuals already have as opposed to what the employability sector feels they are lacking in.
I agree with Oonagh-keep it social practice and learner centred!
Having said that, we are part of the Glasgow Region City Deal Working Matters Programme for people who have been on ESA . Our participants are not job ready, they have a case manager who undertook an individual need assessment and action plan with them. The programme had funding attached to it so each participants had 1-1 contact with a case manager who referred them to existing activity or bought in activity. The programme took a more 'holistic' view of the participant so we could be doing stress management/ health and wellbeing/ confidence building etc. In Glasgow the provider did arts and crafts, which I thought was ironic as CLD has been steered away from that sort of thing! In the employability world it's called barrier removal/ positive activity :-). I've attached the initial needs assessment used in the programme which helped form an action plan, which gets regularly updated, you could adapt it to suit. (You may have this already or it may not be what you're looking for, so apologies if this is the case).
I cant seem to open the link you sent. Would you mind emailing this across to my manager please? His email is email@example.com.
Thank you for your responses again everyone I really appreciate that.
This certainly is a challenge. Although I am not in a position to do this through work, as I am part of a Community Development team, I have the opportunity to do this as part of a charity that I set up 4 years ago (Leaflet attached). It reflects the approach of doing something practical, gives real work experience, while allowing 'shoulder-to-shoulder' conversations to take place that develop confidence, self worth and mutual respect, team work and people skills, time keeping and routines, etc.
I work in CLD ,Adult Learning Team in Dundee. I've attached information about Employability Learning Network sessions that run for Agency/Project staff that work in Dundee to share work developments & discuss issues arising from our practice.
Please see attached for information it's worth making contact with Marion Logan who organises the sessions for more detailed information.