Why housing associations are key to closing employment gaps, if we get it right

While coronavirus may have put a halt on all in-person training courses for now, that doesn’t mean housing associations need to stop providing the resources and training our customers need. We’re adapting to ensure our customers continue to receive the support they deserve, moving to online courses for the foreseeable future and offering phone appointments for our employment advice and support services. Normality will resume and it’s important we continue to focus on closing employment gaps, helping to prepare our customers and ensure they can reach their full potential when opportunities arise. Whenever that may be.

 

Closing the gap

Despite record employment in the UK, there are still significant differences between, and within groups in terms of employment rates, pay and career progression.

Housing associations can play a huge role in closing this gap, providing they get it right.

Due to the COVID-19 situation, it has been important for the Employment Team to move quickly and adjust its current offers. The team are in the process of transferring its training and support to online initiatives and hope to launch this over the next two weeks – this will include Wellbeing workshops which we hope will help our residents to cope with the current lockdown procedures.

Getting it right is about more than enabling people to be more financially stable. When employment support and training work is successful, we see people who:

Parents often talk about the pride they experience when they realise they are again, or for the first time, able to provide security to their children and lessen their dependency on benefits.

Yet, closing employment gaps is not easy and there is certainly no ‘one-size fits all’ method. It can be hard to reach communities, and different people have different needs.

Reaching out

Closing the gap through employment support and training is ideal in theory, but the reality is challenging. We want to be investing our time and resources in the right projects at the right time.

But every individual has different skills, qualifications, ambitions, barriers, circumstances and interests. This makes targeting or concentrating resources difficult.

How do we effectively reach as many people as possible while keeping initiatives relevant and engaging, without spreading resources too thinly?

 

Paid work is the result, not the goal

Successful employment support and training is about more than helping someone write a CV or find a specific job. These are still incredibly valuable but, on their own, are only a quick fix if successful. Job markets are ever changing; required skills change, people get made redundant, want a change in career or simply move areas.

Short term fixes are resource intensive for little long-term gain, with individuals potentially finding themselves back in the same situation in the future.

The goal is to provide people with the skills, knowledge and opportunities that mean they can adapt to change, be independent and continue to learn and develop without support.

Building homes means nothing without opportunity and the chance for people to improve their quality of life. Housing associations are in a unique position to be able to help close employment gaps across our communities and it’s vital that we get it right.

 

– Chris Adams, Employment and Training Manager