Employability day is just around the corner and will be celebrating the work of organisations that are closing the employment gap by supporting disadvantaged people to enter, continue and progress in work.  The Forward Trust, in partnership with the London Borough of Brent, are celebrating Employability Day with a hosted roundtable comprised of our employers, commissioners and partners.  Our event will focus on how the employment gap can be closed by promoting the `talent’ of the people we support, who are ex-offenders, people in recovery, young people at risk of offending and others who are unemployed or NEET.

Our event coincides with my one-year anniversary as Director of Employment Services at the Forward Trust.  The last 12 months have seen the launch of a new growth strategy to expand our impact, which has three important aspects to it

  1. Talking about careers, rather than just jobs, with the people, we support – helping them access job and apprenticeship roles that will help them to continue to develop their qualifications, improve their pay and progress in life.  Our focus is about better jobs and careers, not just a job.
  2. Investing our staff resources in developing the `mind set qualities’ in the people we support. We know employers will impart the technical skills to do a job. However, they need people with the right attitude and qualities to add value to their work force.  Our `15 ways to lose your job’ workshop, led by our clients, highlights what behaviours it takes to succeed in a job or apprenticeship.  
  3. Building in a `bridge’ in our provision, so that we have pathways from our work in prison education and training through to employability support in the community and work-based training and apprenticeships. 

Our new strategy and business model is based on winning Government contracts, so our bridge is being constructed by winning IAG Prison Education Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) contracts in a number of prisons, expanding our JCP DPS provision and developing new skills provision through ESFA ESF contacts.  We hope to add the devolved Adult Education Budget, traineeships and apprenticeships training to this soon. We are committed to employing our clients through our social enterprises –  including Blue Sky Services (a ground maintenance business) and Trew Era Café (hospitality training), as well as supporting new start-ups through our Forward Enterprise Fund and new Enterprise Advisors.    

Employability day will be pivotal to the conversations we are having with employers. We are changing the  language away from `managing the risk’ or `de-risking’  to `promoting and nurturing talent’, `widening diversity in a workforce’ and `developing the next generation of managers and leaders’.  I believe that employers are recognising that improving social mobility and finding and developing talent for the workforce are two sides of the same coin and we are delighted to be part of the solution.

For more information on Forward Trust’s Employment Services, click here

Asi Panditharatna is the Divisional Director of Employment Services at the Forward Trust

Asi is also a board member of the Events Management Apprenticeship Trailblazer