Firms team up with government to get half a million into work

One sector in need of more workers is healthcare, with over 100,000 vacancies nationally. In Dudley, in the West Midlands, the Jobcentre Plus team has developed a close working relationship with Sutton Coldfield-based healthcare recruitment agency Fairway Homecare to help get people into unfilled posts.

Fairway runs a scheme through its sister company, Embark Learning. It takes prospective candidates put forward by Jobcentre Plus and trains them before passing them on to Fairway, which provides them with a full-time role on a permanent contract. They can then be assigned roles in home care or residential care homes.

“The service Jobcentre Plus provides us with is essential,” says Alex O’Neill, operations director at Fairway.

“And our relationship with its work coaches is absolutely critical to everything we do. Since we started working with Jobcentre Plus, we have put 1,600 carers through our programme, over 600 of them in the last year alone. This year, we’re hoping to put a thousand through.”

“We have actually got a ready-made pool of talent on our doorstep,” says David, a member of the Jobcentre Plus Dudley Borough Employer Adviser Team.

“Some, not all, employers have a negative perception of the people who use the jobcentre network, but the huge majority of those who we see really want to work. They need opportunities and we need vacancies.”

Through Way to Work, Jobcentre Plus offices around the country can support employers in several ways: by streamlining and speeding up recruitment processes; promoting any vacancies within local branches and online; and matching, pre-screening and booking guaranteed interviews. They can also provide invitations to attend local employer recruitment events and sector job fairs.

“We provide local jobs for local people across every sector, not just healthcare,” says David. “I’m passionate about finding people jobs – that’s why I do this.”

One happy beneficiary of jobcentre support is Kate from Wolverhampton. The mum-of-three lost her hospitality job at the height of the pandemic and had to claim Universal Credit. But thankfully, her local Jobcentre Plus pointed her towards Fairway Homecare.

“I’m a people person and a caring person and I like working face-to-face – I told them that when I had my interview at the jobcentre,” she says. “They suggested I try care giving and I’m really grateful because it’s the best thing that could have happened. I love it.”

Kate took to her role so successfully she was nominated for a prize at this year’s Great British Care Awards.

“I never wanted to be on Universal Credit. Circumstances during the pandemic meant I had no choice. But now I want to progress in my new career and train as a nurse. I want to be the best I can be.”