More than 5,000 Tower Hamlets residents were supported into work or training last year thanks to the council’s WorkPath programme.
WorkPath was launched in April 2017 to provide a bespoke job brokerage and training service for residents looking to get into work either for the first time or after a period of unemployment.
In the past 12 months, the team has engaged with men and women of all ages from across the borough. Many have come directly to the WorkPath offices at Upper Bank Street while others have come via partner organisations and outreach sites such as children’s centres in other parts of Tower Hamlets.
Of those, more than half were from black and minority ethnic communities while one in ten said they would consider themselves to be disabled or dealing with health problems.
All WorkPath clients are assessed to establish what level of individual support they need. Those who are ready to enter the workplace immediately are invited to meet with a personal job broker who helps to connect them to existing vacancies and partner employers.
But many people face challenges in accessing work including childcare obligations, poor computer literacy, struggles with presentation and self-confidence, long periods of previous unemployment and poor physical or mental health.
These individuals may not be ready for work immediately and instead receive support from specialist advice, information and guidance officers who make sure they first get access to the training and development they need.
The WorkPath team also works closely with employers to understand the current jobs market, keep pace with changes and ensure that local residents can get the skills that businesses want.
This insight has led to the establishment of sector-specific programmes focusing on areas including construction, hospitality, healthcare and childcare.
Recently, after identifying that older residents were facing additional obstacles in their efforts to get back into work, the WorkPath team set up the Working Start: 50+ programme which provides paid placements in a mix of sectors for men and women aged over 50 who are changing their careers or returning to work. The first cohort on this programme has recently started work.
In November, Mayor John Biggs launched his Apprenticeship Commitment which pledged that the council would work with businesses across Tower Hamlets and the wider East End to create 1,000 new apprenticeship places by 2020.
In the first six months of the commitment, the WorkPath team has already worked to create 206 new opportunities for the benefit of our residents.
On Tuesday, Mayor Biggs visited the Aberfeldy Village housing development to meet with two young residents of the borough who were supported into employment by WorkPath.
20-year-old Mark Reid came to WorkPath for help finding work. The team helped him to gain a Construction Skills Certification Scheme card before putting him in touch with construction firm Willmott Dixon.
Mark is now enjoying his role as an electrical apprentice on the Aberfeldy Village site.
Picture: Mayor Biggs and Cllr Uz-Zaman with electrical apprentice Mark Reid
Working alongside Mark is Shahan Ahmed. The 20-year-old has gone from being out of work to getting a firm foot on the employment ladder as a Willmott Dixon plumbing apprentice.
Later on Tuesday, Mayor Biggs met with WorkPath staff as they were reunited with residents they had helped into work over the past year.
Among those he spoke to was 28-year-old single mum Salma Hussain who was celebrating after being offered an exciting new role with Travelodge thanks to a training programme completed with WorkPath.
“I was referred to WorkPath through Job Centre Plus,” she said. “I completed the World Host customer service programme which helped me to get the job at Travelodge.
“WorkPath is brilliant. I enjoyed the group sessions, the pre-interviews with the friendly staff. The team are so friendly and it is a big help to single parents like me who are looking to get back into work.
“I would really recommend WorkPath. Come along and give it a go.”
Picture: Mayor Biggs with Salma Hussain
The mayor was joined by the new cabinet member for work and economic growth, Cllr Motin Uz-Zaman.
Cllr Uz-Zaman thanked the WorkPath team for their efforts and recommitted the administration to putting jobs and growth at the heart of their programme in the coming years.
Reflecting on his day marking the first anniversary of WorkPath, the mayor said: “I am delighted that WorkPath has exceeded our ambitious target of getting 5,000 residents into training or employment in its first year.
“We are also well on track to meet the commitment I made in November to create 1,000 new apprenticeship places by 2020.
“Talking to residents who have benefitted from WorkPath, it was clear just what a difference it has made in ensuring people benefit from the opportunities we have in the borough.”
Cllr Uz-Zaman added: “WorkPath is enabling our residents to access training and help them overcome barriers to find a job.
“I am delighted to have joined the cabinet as the new member for Work and Economic Growth and look forward to building on the record of WorkPath to deliver for residents.”
Mayor Biggs and Cllr Uz-Zaman with Aaron Uthman (Community Relations Ambassador at London City Airport) alongside some of the many residents who have been supported into employment by WorkPath over the past year.
Posted on Wednesday 16th May 2018