Over the past eighteen months, we have been working closely with Prospects to deliver two major Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) programmes to support in-work progression for employees and employers in North East and Central London. These programmes are aimed at those in low-paid roles, often lacking any specific professional training, that find themselves in part-time or ‘zero hours’ contracts, or with little chance of career progression or security. By working with individuals and employers on the programmes (Employment Plus) we enable employees to undertake training (accredited and non-accredited) that will not only benefit them as an individual but also increase their ‘equity’ as far as their employer is concerned. For this reason we work closely with employers to make sure that the skills we provide for the individual will have a real impact on their progression in the workplace.

The training is free to the company and to the individual and as a result of their improved skills or competency, the employer commits to either in,creasing the hourly wage or reviews and revises the employee’s employment contract to offer them more security – i.e. moving from a zero hours to a fixed rate contract or from part-time to full-time. is a win – win; employees gain more skills to add to their CV, more security and better long term prospects and employers end up with more skilled, motivated employees, who feel they have been invested in by their employers.

Our shared ethos (Rinova and Prospects are both members of the Employee Ownership Association) combined with a programme which has created great opportunities for our target groups and our employer networks has led to some fantastic results. Excellent support from Prospects and a project that really does offer tangible results to both individuals and employers has made this a very satisfying if challenging project to deliver.

Pictured: A recent group workshop at Rinova with participants from the programme who work in the Care sector.

We invested heavily in this delivery and as a result we have frequently found ourselves at the top of Prospects’ monthly targets and achievement tables. At the last count (February) we had supported 842 learners, with 431 already completing a combination of accredited and non-accredited training –  and with over 208 of these achieving increased salaries (138) or more stable contracts (70) as a direct result of the intervention. Focusing on sectors where low skills and low wages are particularly rife (health and social care, security industry, services), we have been able to make a real difference to the companies and the individuals involved. With six months to go on the original contract, we very much hope to see it extended in the coming months.