Job support initiative welcomed by woman made redundant three times

A woman who has landed a new job after her third successive redundancy has welcomed an online one-stop-shop aimed at supporting people who are looking for work.

New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership is launching a Job Support Programme for those employment has been hit by the pandemic, signposting them to everything they need – from live job vacancies to information about retraining and starting a business.

An interactive support finder, it will direct jobseekers to the advice, help and training that is available to them from organisations across Norfolk and Suffolk.

The LEP has been posting job vacancies on its website to help employers in the region hire the staff they need to continue operating through the pandemic. Many of the opportunities have been in retail, food production, healthcare and other key sectors impacted by the spread of the virus.

Angela Brett from Norwich found herself without a job in April after the closure of OPEN Youth Trust, where she had been development manager for just over a year. The charity and live music venue helped thousands of young people in the city over a period of 15 years but fell victim to Covid-19.

Not only did Angela lose a job she loved, but she was left contemplating her third successive redundancy, having gone through redundancy twice in a row before joining OPEN.

She said: “Initially I felt disappointment that we couldn’t see it through; then it was sadness. But what kicked in was knowing that I’d been through it twice before, so I knew how to manage my feelings third time around.

“What probably happened is that I kicked into survival mode and I was more worried about everybody else in the team because there were some young people there and that would have been their first job. I was contacting them, making sure they were okay and asking, ‘Can I help? Can I look at your CV?’ I’m always essentially thinking I’m going to be all right.”

Faced with looking for her fourth job in four years, Angela reached out to people she thought might help, including the LEP’s skills manager, Natasha Waller, who made her aware of the support and advice available.

She also engaged with people on LinkedIn and signed up for webinars and workshops with a view to making new connections. In the event, the break she had hoped for came from a networking event she had been to about a year before, where she had met Richard Ross, Director of financial services firm, Chadwicks.

He messaged her about a vacant role after reading about her work situation on LinkedIn and, after two socially distanced interviews, recruited her as business development manager.

Angela stressed the importance of taking advantage of the support available from the LEP, Norfolk Chambers of Commerce and other organisations which can help those looking for work and welcomed the introduction of the Job Support Programme.

She also gave some advice of her own. “If you’ve been in a job a long time, you think ‘I don’t have any transferrable skills’ or ‘How can I apply myself if I want to do something different?’ Just write down who you are and the things that you believe in, in and out of work. Probably more so out of work because that will help you find something different to apply yourself to.”

Chris Starkie, Chief Executive of New Anglia LEP, said the Recovery Restart Plan produced by the LEP and partners had committed to supporting people being made redundant and helping businesses looking for staff through a new local partnership of businesses and local and national agencies.

“People facing redundancy will be able to easily access support through these online pages and there will also be information about business and personal finance, retraining and reskilling opportunities and advice around mental wellbeing,” he said.

Natasha Waller, the LEP’s Skills Manager, said it was crucial that those made redundant in the pandemic were given as much support as possible to regain employment and that people were able to acquire the skills needed by employers in the region.

“Often people who are made redundant don’t know where to turn or how to get support, especially if they have worked somewhere for a long time,” she said.

“This Job Support Programme means people looking for work can find all the organisations that are there to help them in one place and have some of the stress of the situation removed. The Employment Opportunities page on our website has proved extremely popular and has received more than 23,000 page views since it was set up in April and we hope this new feature will also attract lots of people who are looking for work.”

Skills Edge case study

With approximately 7.5m people within the furlough system that ends in October, and the UK payroll falling by 730,000 people between March to July, the UK’s unemployment crisis is just beginning. However, equipped with a range of new incentives and initiatives, Skills Edge Training, with the LEP and Apprenticeships Norfolk, is rising to the challenge in the county.

Ethan Currie, a Business Administrator apprentice with Skills Edge Training, began his apprenticeship at the beginning of February 2020 but was made redundant in June due to Covid-19. “I was shocked as well as nervous due to having to find another job during the Covid outbreak and I knew that would be difficult,” he said. “I was really panicking that I would have to find another job during these times.”

Thankfully, the team at Skills Edge Training were quick to find a new employment opportunity where Ethan could continue his Business Administrator apprenticeship.

“They were really helpful. I emailed Tony straight away, and he called me back instantly. Calvin gave me a call and talked me through the different roles available. We found a position that matched, and with some interview preparation points he put me forward.

“When I got offered the job, I was so happy, such a huge relief. I would say without Skills Edge it could have taken me many more months to secure a similar job that would enable me to continue the apprenticeship.”

Ethan is now completing his apprenticeship with The Leadenhall Law Group in Norwich. He is looking forward to all the progression opportunities available upon completion, including becoming a conveyancing assistant.

As a returning apprentice, having recently been made redundant, his employer is eligible for the Recruit Retain Reward programme through Apprenticeships Norfolk. These offer new flexible incentive grants and support available for employers in Norfolk – £1000 to recruit a new apprentice aged 16-24 and £1000 to employ an existing apprentice aged 16-24 made redundant due to Covid-19.

To access the Job Support Programme, go to https://newanglia.co.uk/job-support-programme

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