£4m funding boost for employment schemes in St Helens
Residents in St Helens will receive the support they need to access employment and training opportunities after nearly £4m in funding was secured to deliver a number of ambitious projects.
St Helens Borough Council’s Cabinet accepted £744,695 from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority - as part of the government’s UK Community Renewal Fund - to launch St Helens Pathways to Employment, a new initiative led by the council which looks to support at least 610 residents, as well as a number of local business and organisations.
By working with a range of partners and council services - including St Helens Mind, and Teardrops - to reach people with complex needs, the main purpose of St Helens Pathway to Employment is to make the entry route easier for those wanting to access employment, education, and training opportunities.
The project will also work closely with the council’s Ways to Work programme which has received a funding boost after Cabinet also accepted £1.9m from the Combined Authority through European Social Fund and Youth Employment Initiative Funding, to keep the service - which has engaged with more than 2,600 residents since its launch in 2016 - running until the end of 2023.
Following the success of Ways to Work to date, a dedicated walk-in careers centre opened in St Helens town centre in June 2021 to offer a one-stop shop to support local people through mentoring, coaching, advice, guidance, and job searching – with a similar facility expected to open in Earlestown in early spring.
One person who has already benefitted from the programme is single mum of three Gemma who contacted the service with no real focus on the area of work she wanted to move into.
After some initial meetings and discussions, Gemma decided that an admin role would be an area of work that she would like to pursue but didn’t have any prior experience or the relevant qualifications.
Not to be defeated, Gemma’s Ways to Work advisor managed to negotiate a six-week placement to build up her CV with local housing provider, Torus, who were so happy with Gemma’s progress after four-weeks that they encouraged her to apply for a job that was coming up.
“The Ways to Work team provide you with such good advice and really make you think about making the right decisions for yourself - they don’t pressure you into certain opportunities,” said Gemma.
“I got help from the Ways to Work team with the (job) application and they also helped me with interview techniques and advice. I was able to get the job (with Torus) and started in November 2020, which is amazing to achieve so soon after receiving support. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Meanwhile, St Helens Chamber has been allocated £629,747 from the Liverpool City Region, as part of the government’s UK Community Renewal Fund, to launch Clean, Green and Advanced Manufacturing Skills for the Future – with local training provider, Kickstart2Employment Ltd also awarded £622,482 to lead a Licence to Work scheme.
The Clean, Green and Advanced Manufacturing Skills for the Future programme will engage with local businesses, colleges, universities, training providers and schools, and other partners and stakeholders, to discover how best to upskill the current workforce to ensure the local economy has the skills needed to create clean and green growth in our area, further strengthening advanced manufacturing sectors.
The project will also inspire future generations to see how they can gain careers in this growing sector, informing them about the opportunities available and inspiring them to pursue higher levels of skills training to provide a future workforce.
Welcoming the reports, Councillor Kate Groucutt, St Helens Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Business, said: “We’re incredibly proud of the direct positive impact that employment and training initiatives like our Ways to Work programme have had in assisting residents to find work, and there are many real-life examples similar to Gemma’s story.
"So I’m delighted that our support offer will be further strengthened through these projects, delivered by the council and its partners, which will help us deliver the aspirations set out in the St Helens Economic Reset and Recovery Plan.
“The St Helens Pathways to Employment project will invest in local businesses to help them create jobs; develop volunteering opportunities as a first step on the path to employment; and invest in skills to ensure the borough’s workforce is ready for the opportunities of the future.
“We recognise the challenges and barriers some residents face when it comes to looking for work or training programmes – that’s why it’s important services are accessible to those in need of our support.
“With an experienced and highly skilled team who have a great track record in supporting people from all walks of life, and a modern and friendly environment, I would encourage anyone looking for employment or training opportunities to contact us and take the first step to an exciting and successful future.”
Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “Most of my life, I have worked to improve the skills and employment prospects of people living across our region. Since I was elected, I’ve made it a key priority. From our successful Households into Work programme to the Young Person’s Guarantee, we have been pioneering new initiatives that are drastically improving local people’s life chances.
“We are investing an extra £4m to support employment and training schemes across St Helens to continue that good work. By working with St Helens Borough Council and local businesses, we’re able to tailor the support and guidance on offer around the needs of local people and the local economy.
“Our region is already beginning to bounce back from the economic shocks that COVID gave us. I know that St Helens will be one of the big drivers of our recovery that will help take the wider region from strength to strength.”
Rachel Willacy, Head of Business Services at St Helens Chamber, commented: “We’re pleased to be able to deliver this new programme and the Chamber is looking forward to supporting businesses to achieve clean and green growth. We are aiming to address skills gaps and shortages which are hindering businesses from growing in this area.
“This programme will help inform future longer-term projects in these growth sectors, giving us a better understanding of exactly what support businesses need, and how best to deliver the required skills training to the workforce and improve productivity.”
You can also visit the Ways to Work hub, located in Church Square Shopping Centre, St Helens Town Centre, open Monday to Friday from 9am-5pm.