For Employability Day 2022, Allan Potter, Project Manager of Skill Up Bucks (SUB), shares a few thoughts about how the employability programme creates opportunities for people aged 17+ to meet and interact with employers across Buckinghamshire—and why there is a need for such schemes.

SUB is funded by the European Social Fund and the Department for Work and Pensions, and like all Adviza employability programmes, it has multiple beneficiaries. As well as empowering individuals to gain qualifications, develop job searching skills and tools, find work experience, increase their opportunities and ultimately find work, it is also about supporting local employers with their recruitment. This can include upskilling staff, influencing skills provision and helping the local economy by preventing the “skills drain” that occurs as Buckinghamshire loses talent to London.

The project reaches a wide variety of individuals and we tailor our support to meet the particular needs of each person. This could mean providing regular intensive one-to-one support to people at risk of being excluded from employment or those from challenging backgrounds, or assisting school leavers to make decisions about their future or secure work experience. It could mean introducing career-changers to our portfolio of employer mentors where they can find out more about sectors and companies that interest them. It could mean facilitating short and fast interactions between employers and people just looking to explore and discuss their options, or helping those new to the region identify opportunities and understand the job market.

The power of networks

For SUB to work, a good deal of effort must go into creating and nurturing networks: we are passionate about the need to align employers with local people and ensure schools and education centres understand the needs and skills requirements of the local economy.

Our partner matrix is significant and the wider it is, the more successful SUB is likely to be; each partner is a potential channel through which we can reach and support people and employers. We work with The Job Centre, providers on the Restart Scheme, (part of the Government’s Plan for Jobs, which helps long-term unemployed people to start working), the local authority, the skills advisory panel, the local enterprise partnership, learning providers, mental health charities and many more community agencies. However, we are always looking for new partners to join us, and this could be any organisation that supports adults in Buckinghamshire, or a local employer.

How we connect employers and individuals

SUB works by creating opportunities for employers to meet with local people. This can happen through our jobs, skills and wellbeing fairs or employer and sector outreach events held at schools, colleges, universities and community venues across Buckinghamshire. These events provide a great opportunity for the delegates to meet employers and learn more about a local hirer’s careers, culture, most sought-after skills and vacancies as well as allowing the employers to meet and interact with a potential new employee.

At our events individuals can also gain support from our advisers to develop their interview skills and CVs before meeting the employer, or learn more about qualifications relating to their preferred career choices and generally receive the full gamut of careers advice.

Why Skill Up Bucks is important

We believe that employers should be at the heart of all local skills provision and employability support in Buckinghamshire. As well as moving people forward towards a specific career, we also need to ensure hirers in Buckinghamshire are more connected to their future workforce, with a greater say in the development of skills within the region.

This could mean supporting employers to learn about apprenticeships or T-Levels, creating opportunities for student internships and/or arranging for employers to be student mentors or ambassadors for their sector.

This joint working helps us support adults in Buckinghamshire to find better opportunities with local employers that match the skills needs of the local economy. Helping individuals open a pathway to their desired career whilst closing employer skill gaps is a programme I’m proud to be a part of.

What’s next for Skill Up Bucks?

We’d love to sign up more ambassadors and mentors from employers in Buckinghamshire. This could be to help an individual learn more about routes into your job role, give talks to students on your work experience opportunities or create a short video about your sector which we can post on our website. Any support no matter how small is appreciated. If you’re interest to learn more please contact [email protected]

For jobseekers: on July 8th we’re running a recruitment day with MacIntyre, a charity that helps young people with learning difficulties and autism. MacIntyre has a number of internal vacancies helping to deliver this support, and we’ll be holding two sessions at The Healthy Living Centre in Aylesbury, where visitors can learn more and interview for the roles. Rewarding careers await those who are successful.

To pre-book an interview or learn more about this event, please contact [email protected]

Find out more about Skill Up Bucks