Helping people back to work
Research by the think tank Reform has highlighted that the over 50s, women with children and people with disabilities – are still “marginalised” from the UK jobs market, despite high levels of employment. Claire Findlay, Barclays’ Head of Apprentices, explains what Barclays is doing to tackle the employment gap.
The over 50s, mothers and people with disabilities are some of the groups being marginalised in the UK job market, according to research published by Reform (PDF 2.09MB) and supported by Barclays.
“The revival of the labour market has been the standout success story in recent years,” writes Imogen Farhan, the Reform think tank researcher collating a Reformer Thoughts piece on the issue, but “certain groups continue to be marginalised”.
In the UK, over one million people aged over 50 are out of work, but would be willing to work if the right opportunity arose. Women continue to face a ‘motherhood penalty’ impacting their pay over 30, and the disability employment gap – currently 30% – has not changed in a decade.
Reform’s mission is to change policy to create “better and smarter” public services. In the report, sponsored by Barclays as part of the bank’s commitment to reducing the employment gap, researchers brought together experts from a range of backgrounds to discuss how to help those excluded from the workplace get back into long-term, stable employment.
Multi-generational workers bring a range of ideas and opinions to the table, as well as life and work experience that can better reflect a business’ customer or client base
Head of Apprentices, Barclays
Barclays’ Head of Apprentices, Claire Findlay, explains how the bank’s Able to Enable channel is helping candidates held back by the stigma surrounding their health conditions to build confidence in achieving a successful career.
“It offers a three-month paid internship,” says Findlay, “giving people the opportunity to learn new business skills, gain experience and build their workplace confidence. On completion, individuals have the chance to be considered for our apprenticeship scheme or a permanent role with us.”
The scheme runs nationwide, important in an environment where the employment rate of disabled people is over 15 percent higher in the South East than the North East.
In the Reform report, Anna Bird, Executive Director of Policy and Research at disability equality charity Scope, says that “it’s good for employers, the economy and society” that disabled people who can and want to work get the support they need to do so.
Findlay echoes this sentiment, pointing to the bank’s Able to Enable programme, which is designed to support people whose careers may have been held back by the stigma surrounding their health conditions. “By listening to our Able to Enable colleagues we’re understanding how we can adapt our culture and environment so all staff members feel like they can have a successful career with us,” she says.
Another programme for an under-served group is the Bolder Apprenticeship scheme, designed for over 24-year-olds wishing to return to work. “A multi-generational workforce is crucial,” says Findlay, “not only for the economy but for businesses too.
Multi-generational workers bring a range of ideas and opinions to the table, as well as life and work experiences that can better reflect a business’ customer or client base.” As the scheme expands, Barclays increasingly benefits from the ‘returnships’ of its new employees.
Helping people retrain, upskill and change careers is crucial to create a flexible labour market that can keep pace with rapid technological change where a job for life is no longer a guarantee
Tackling worklessness and low pay is important, says the report, for a range of social reasons – including improving health, wellbeing and inclusion. “It also makes clear economic sense,” writes Farhan. “It cuts the amount spent on welfare and tax credits, with indirect savings in other public services. It is estimated that local economies benefit by more than £14,000 per year every time an unemployed person begins a Living Wage job.”
This is something that Barclays’ LifeSkills programme is trying to promote. Having supported 8.8million 11 to 24-year-olds with core transferable workplace skills since launch, the programme is soon to be extended to all age groups. A decline in ‘adult learning’, particularly among disadvantaged groups, is one of the chief insights of the Reform report, and something an expanded LifeSkills can go some way to address.
Findlay says “there is an element of individual responsibility to reskilling but employers should look to provide skills interventions too”. As the Reform report notes: “Helping people retrain, upskill and change careers is crucial to create a flexible labour market that can keep pace with rapid technological change where a job for life is no longer a guarantee.”