Innovation Exchange

Experience Works

Introduction

Key activities

Benefits and impacts

Learning

Further Information

Dumfries and Galloway Council recognises its role as the largest employer in the region and its lead role within the Local Employability Partnership.  It is determined to maximise its capability and capacity to support youth unemployment at a time of reducing public sector resources, whilst using the experience of the Employability and Skills Service to facilitate and coordinate initiatives that can support our objectives and priorities across the wider public sector.

 

 ‘Experience Works’ was initially a collaborative project created and funded by Dumfries and Galloway Community Planning Partners: Police; Fire; NHS and Council to promote, develop and coordinate a network of safe, sustainable work experience opportunities across the public sector designed to provide young people from across Dumfries and Galloway with the experience they need to support them into paid employment, education or training.  As a result of its initial successes it was expanded to encompass the private and 3rd sectors.

 

The number of opportunities held on the data-base has grown from 27 in March 2013 to in excess of 800 in April 2016.

 

The focus is to ensure that opportunities meet the needs of all service users irrespective of academic, social, geographic or health barriers.  Opportunities include placements that are developed individually or for group attendance.  The work experience co-ordination unit underpins the organisation of placements through a streamlined process that cuts through bureaucracy.

Theme: Employability

dumfries and galloway council logo

Experience Works!, acts as the central repository for work experience opportunities for the region.  It provides a consistent, knowledgeable, experienced and fully inclusive service to users who are part of the region wide Employability Partnership, including:

 

  • 16 secondary schools;
  • 2 additional support needs secondary schools;
  • Other educational support services;
  • Further and Higher educational establishments;
  • 3rd Sector organisations such as the Princes Trust;
  • Private companies who interact with the Employability Partnership;
  • Employability and Skills Service

 

with referrals into placements, support in finding placements and risk assessment capabilities for self-found placements to ensure that they remain safe and sustainable.  The Work Experience Co-ordinator also acts as a liaison service for providers ensuring that their requirements are addressed as well as raising awareness of opportunities they present.

 

The Unit,  has the responsibility for creating and delivering 24 paid work experience placements within the Local Authority for

Looked-After Young People between the ages of 16 to 25 in fulfilling an objective from the Council’s Corporate Parenting Strategy.  This will provide 8 fully funded placements each year paid at the Living Wage until March 2018.

 

Regular meetings take place with all stakeholders to ensure that the Unit is meeting their needs.  Strong evidence for this comes from the schools where there was significant risk to the provision of opportunities due to the long lead in times for risk assessments.  This led to the development of a group of trained assessors able to turn assessments around quickly thereby assisting schools to develop a local pool of high quality opportunities.

 

The Unit is developing the value of work experience through the introduction of a bespoke Dumfries and Galloway employability award as part of the delivery.  The framework for this award is developed in cognisance with the needs of employers and is endorsed by the Scottish Chambers of Commerce.

Since inception the Unit has supported the placement of approximately 1200 young people into opportunities in the 2013/14 to 2015/16 academic years.  The experience that the Unit has developed is proving crucial to the development of work experience within the schools and with partners.  This experience and knowledge provides a solid foundation for the local development of Developing The Young Workforce.  This has been instrumental in the development of the DYW toolkits for schools and others that has been recognised as good practice by Education Scotland.

For the development of opportunities and growing talent they have created strong links with Dumfries and Galloway Total Access Point (DG TAP) to raise awareness with providers of the various funding streams that are available from Scottish Government and Europe should they wish to employ a young person as a permanent member of staff.  This has proved successful in supporting various young people transition from work experience into employment across the region.

 

Examples include a school leaver into an apprenticeship with a Heating Engineer; 2 school leavers into farming, a young person into Joinery.

This provision also assists in identifying employment opportunities for young people with employers who make use of the funding to create new jobs.  Examples of where this has been successful include Veterinary Nursing, Hairdresser and Beautician.

 

A very positive case study that fully illustrates the value of Experience Works! as a joined up practice relates to a young woman who is the first young person to complete the Dumfries & Galloway Council’s Looked-After Young People’s paid work experience programme.  The programme offers young people who have experience of being in care, the opportunity of a six-month paid work–experience placement within a Council department.  The programme is part funded by Dumfries & Galloway Council and is also part of a £1.3 million grant by The European Social Fund for Dumfries & Galloway Council’s Employability Pipeline Project.

 

The young person began her paid work-experience placement in Administration in August 2015 and her high standard of work performance led to an extension of her placement.  Outstandingly, she has also embarked on a part-time Open University degree whilst on her placement and has also now secured permanent employment outside the Council.

 

She commented on the work experience scheme, “On this programme it doesn’t only give you experience, it gives you more confidence in yourself and helps you realise so many things about yourself….I would recommend this programme to any other care experienced young person as it’s changed me and my life.”

 

In 2013 the work experience Unit developed a bespoke introductory course for school pupils who were interested in a career in the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service.  This course was very well evaluated and full of good practice.  It has subsequently been used as a template to develop further similar courses such as a health professional course at the Galloway Hospital Stranraer and a medicine course at Dumfries & Galloway Royal Infirmary that encourages young people from backgrounds not normally associated with careers in medicine to consider such a career option.

The Work Experience Unit is presently staffed by a Co-ordinator and Team Leader who have considerable knowledge and experience in employability and personal development within the public sector in a variety of roles out-with the current service such as coaches, advisors and recruiters.  This knowledge has enabled the team to develop a holistic approach through their role in creating opportunities that promotes a worthwhile experience to young people in providing an awareness of their chosen career area or a more involved extended experience designed to develop their personal qualities and competencies whilst being empathetic to the needs of employers.  The highly effective communication, relationship building and reflective practice supplied by the Unit staff have ensured a high level of consistency and quality has underpinned this approach.

 

The positioning of the Unit within the Employability and Skills Service, working with experts including Employability Link and Support Workers and an effective management team has enabled them to build their understanding of the needs of young people, the pathways to employment, funding streams available to assist them into employment and support mechanisms to enable them to make the most of the opportunities that they have been given.

 

They have built strong links with education and educational support services to ensure that appropriate levels of universal and targeted support are provided.

 

Risk assessment is critical for the supply of safe, sustainable opportunities.  The requirement for assessments to be completed properly, professionally and within timescales is essential in ensuring that there are no delays in commencing an opportunity.  A cross service, cross region team of risk assessors has been trained and put in place to ensure that they are carried out without any undue delay.

 

Other organisations that are part of the Dumfries and Galloway Employability Partnership are also now using the service as a one stop shop for employer engagement through our DG TAP (Total Access Point) Service who provide a holistic service and streamlined engagement process for business and the partnership in meeting their combined needs.

 

The Unit will provide a solid foundation within the Local Employability Partnership for the further development, delivery and achievement of the aims of the national DYW strategy.

Further information can be found on www.dgtap.co.uk

Contact details:

To find out more about this case study, please contact:

 

Ann McCulloch

Employability Development Officer

Dumfries and Galloway Council

01387 245191

Case study added to site: June 2016

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