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Pictured: ETU Employment and Training Co-ordinator, Jennifer Clapperton, talks virtually with Liz Hoskin from Positive Qualities, a training partner.

By adapting how it delivers services, Falkirk Council’s Employment & Training Unit (ETU) has ensured more than 800 people continue to gain employability skills during lockdown.

Working with training partners and third sector organisations, ETU has replaced face-to-face sessions with virtual learning and phone support to keep 823 people aged 15½ to 67 on track with their training.

Even with the job market in turmoil the team has also continued to help people find work. In the past eight weeks, four ETU clients have secured jobs and three have completed work experience training and are now working with Falkirk Council as Modern Apprentices in Business Administration.

Sarah McCulley, ETU Manager, said: “Although jobs are thinner on the ground at the moment we’re still putting people forward for interview in sectors such as food retail and Health & Social Care. Other sectors however are struggling, and we’re starting to get training and support enquiries from people who are currently furloughed and worried about redundancy. These enquiries are only going to increase over the coming months.

“That means competition for jobs will become fiercer than ever and people will be willing to do jobs they’d never have considered in the past. That’s why ETU had to adapt quickly, offering new ways to engage with our services to ensure clients are in as a strong a position as possible to look for work once restrictions ease.”

Somebody to lean on

Currently the 39-strong team support a wide range of people, from those looking to gain qualifications so they can enter or progress into a new sector or change career, to those in need of more tailored training and intensive support with their health, wellbeing and finances.

Because the team often help people overcome significant barriers in their lives, they increasingly become someone to lean on during difficult times.

“Sometimes we’re the only person clients hear from on a regular basis and that’s become even more apparent during lockdown. People speak to us about their anxieties and the challenges they face and we’re able to put them in touch with the right support. That’s an important part of what we do.”

Keeping young people engaged

The team also currently work with 120 young people who aren't destined to follow the traditional path into Higher or Further Education on leaving school. Keeping this group engaged during lockdown has been a priority.

“We knew it would be challenging, but we’ve worked with the young people and their high schools to put in place support that means they can continue to complete tasks at home so they aren’t disadvantaged while schools are closed.”

All system go!

But changing how they deliver services hasn’t been the only challenge the ETU team has overcome during the lockdown, they’ve also had to remotely migrate all their client information to a new Customer Records Management (CRM) system.

“Thanks to the Council’s ICT team it all went smoothly and the team has gotten to grips with the system while also embracing new ways of working. They’ve done a phenomenal job. It really is amazing what can be achieved when you have no other choice but to adapt.”

To find out about the services ETU offer visit, email or call 01324 504408.

Pictured below: Modern Apprentice Sarah Robinson is now working at Denny Cross Medical Centre after completing an ETU work placement during lockdown. The 19-year-old, who has been engaged with ETU for 8 weeks prior to being offered employment, also began studying for her MA Qualification in Business and Administration this month (May).

Modern Apprentice, Sarah Robinson, in her new job