During Challenge Poverty Week (17–23 October), and for as long as is needed, Dumfries and Galloway Council will continue to address the need to get people in the region into employment, raising their skillset, and addressing Anti-Poverty issues resulting from low income employment.
The Council’s Community Learning and Development (CLD) team in Nithsdale is working in partnership with the Employability and Skills Service to support unemployed and underemployed individuals and have established work clubs at two centres in the region: the North West Resource Centre and Kirkconnel Resource Base.
The Work Club initiative came originally from Job Centre Plus. A range of organisations were contacted in late 2010 and invited to set up Work Clubs in line with their ethos and capacity. Within Nithsdale, CLD already offer a number of services that meet the Work Club criteria – help with CV’s and application forms, interview skills, public internet access for job hunting, assistance with the electronic application process and providing volunteering opportunities. Work Clubs are a less structured more informal equivalent to the old style “Job Club”.
Work Clubs can come in all shapes and sizes, but they essentially provide unemployed people with a place to meet, exchange skills, share experiences, find opportunities, make contacts and get support to help them in their return to work. No two Work Clubs will be the same as they reflect local requirements.
Each Work Club operates in a distinct way according to the needs of the community it supports. The support delivered at the centres provides people with training and practical help, which in turn increases their computer skills, enabling them to look for employment and apply for jobs online. Through the process of job searching over the internet, people’s computer skills are increased, providing extra abilities to add to their CV’s. By providing people with new skills they are empowered and feel more in control of their own future, achieving a new level of self-confidence through learning new abilities and aptitudes, which will hopefully enable them to find better employment than perhaps was previously possible.
Since their set up in 2011, an average of 6-8 individuals per week have accessed the service. Work Clubs provide a valuable resource for the many job seekers who do not have internet access at home or lack skills and confidence to be able to fully utilise IT. A number of individuals have been encouraged to join courses offered by CLD such as First Steps in Digital Literacies to specifically improve their IT skills.
In addition to ensuring that jobseekers are able to carry out vacancy searches successfully this also meets one of the requirements of the job centre, ensuring that those hunting for jobs meet their weekly quota of job searches and applications. This in turn prevents them from being subjected to benefits sanctions and has the added bonus of the free public access at the centres being well utilised. The team onsite are able to support individuals on request and all staff are familiar with the new Universal Job Match requirements and are able to guide beginners through the process.
Dumfries and Galloway Council Leader, Councillor Ronnie Nicholson said: “Dumfries and Galloway Council is fully committed to improving the level of skill within our communities and workforce. It is part of our remit to raise ambition and attainment to address inequalities within our region. By providing people with the skills they require to find sustainable employment we are helping to ensure a better future for people and their families by providing the best employment opportunities possible. Anecdotally a number of job seekers have returned to the service and advised us they have found employment and it is great to hear that work clubs are taking on a community spirit. Pooling local knowledge and resources is a great way to help people into work.”
“Through increased employability, we are assisting people out of poverty and enabling them have a better quality of life. With better employment opportunities and a higher skilled workforce within the region we will increase the chances for people to find suitable and better paid jobs in order to increase their self-esteem and support their families.”
There are work clubs at:
North West Resource Centre
Every Thursday 10am – 12 noon
Kirkconnel Resource Base
37A Main Street
Every Wednesday 1:30pm – 3:30pm