Making a smooth career landing

By Hannah Carmichael, New Futures Programme Manager, Learning and Work Institute


13 07 2023


Tagged by:


Person-centred, informal coaching, engaging business in programme design and focussing on local workforce priorities have been key to the success of Learning and Work Institute’s (L&W) New Futures pilots, which have so far seen over 100 people across the UK switch career.

With funding provided by the Covid-19 Support Fund, we have been working in partnership with local authorities and charities to provide place-based support to those whose jobs have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. In Tees Valley, Belfast, Edinburgh and Wales, the programme is connecting people to opportunities in their local areas, while supporting employers to fill their vacancies with suitably skilled workers. While each area is taking a different approach according to local circumstances, emerging findings from the pilots suggest that flexible, tailored support driven by individual needs has enabled participants to access reskilling opportunities that lead to finding new roles in a different sector or industry.

Partnership working to ensure the service being created addressed local need has been another key finding, demonstrating the importance of strong cross-sector collaboration from the start. A wide range of partners have been involved throughout pilot design and delivery alongside local authorities, including voluntary sector agencies who provide employability support, sector specific bodies, Jobcentre Plus, businesses, recruitment agencies, training providers, and agencies which provide wider support on issues such as housing and financial advice.

In Tees Valley, New Futures is delivered by Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council on behalf of the Tees Valley Combined Authority. Qualified, dedicated careers coaches are working in partnership with local agencies to support people into new careers based around their interests and lifestyle.

Kelly from Tees Valley had been the registered carer for her parents during the pandemic and when they both passed away, she was referred to New Futures by Enterprise Made Simple, who support people who want to become self-employed. With the help of her New Futures careers advisor, Kelly identified that she wanted to work flexibly around childcare, doing something she enjoyed. Kelly really enjoyed cleaning and with objective and supportive feedback during careers coaching sessions, she worked towards setting up a cleaning company. Alongside the coaching, Kelly engaged in self-employment training offered by Enterprise Made Simple and Kelly now owns a registered, insured cleaning business with an increasing customer base and a secure future for herself and her family.

Given the focus on reskilling for career change, it’s been essential for all pilots to engage with local employers and to harness the potential of local growth sectors. Our partners at Belfast City Council (BCC) have focused on the tech sector and, by working with tech employers to understand the type of skills needed, have created academies to reskill local people into specific, industry-standard technical roles, with workplace learning and guaranteed job interviews being part of the package of support.

Joel from Belfast worked at a local market and was a jobbing musician, until Covid hit and both career choices were hugely impacted by the pandemic. He had been interested in a career in tech for a while, but found he not only needed to develop his technical skills, but also understand and feel more confident about what would be expected of him on a daily basis within a tech workplace. He completed the BCC tech academy in November 2022 and with the wraparound service of employability skills and careers support available to him, he was successful at interview and has been employed as a software tester with Allstate since.

New Futures is demonstrating that people can change career by being supported to identify their interests and enhance their skills and experience, leading to a more meaningful and sustainable working life.

While our partners are leading all aspects of the programme at the local level, L&W is ensuring the learnings are shared with national leaders, including through our Stakeholder Reference Group which brings together experts and representatives of local government, social housing, business, unions and the voluntary and community sector.

We are also evaluating the programme and the lessons we learn from the four pilots will contribute to the evidence base on what works in supporting people to reskill and change career. We hope this will help to inform future policy development and practice across the UK.

This article was originally published in The MJ on 13th July 2023.