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Employment and skills programme supports residents back into work during coronavirus pandemic

Article date - 09 November 2020

A successful employment and skills programme which looks to secure job and training opportunities for some of the hardest to reach groups of adults in the borough has come in for high praise after helping nearly 100 local people into work during the coronavirus pandemic.
Ryan Ways to Work website edit.jpg

The Ways to Work initiative is an employment programme delivered across the Liverpool City Region since 2016, with the St Helens Borough element delivered by St Helens Borough Council. 

Since March, as it started to tighten its grip on the UK and the rest of the world, Covid-19 has brought many unprecedented challenges, impacting the economy massively - resulting in mass job losses across the country. 

During this period, Ways to Work has assisted more than 300 out of work people with advice, with more than 90 going onto find employment with the team’s help. 

Ryan McNamara from Rainford is a shining example of how the scheme is helping to make a difference to those in St Helens Borough looking for work. 

Twenty-one year-old Ryan – who has used the service previously to successfully find employment – got in touch with Ways to Work after losing his Warrington-based sales job as a direct result of Covid-19.  

“At the beginning of the pandemic I thought everything would be fine - it'll only be a few weeks like most people did,” said Ryan, who now works for St Helens Borough Council as a Licensing and Land Charges Assistant. 

“But after a while it got a bit more worrying, then it came to the point where I couldn't go back to work anymore. I already had the phone number of one of the employment coach and mentors, Mark Harper, who helped me with a previous role. He’s great and I always recommend people to get in touch with him when I hear they’re out of work. 

“Mark was happy to help and got on to it straight away. When he found the Licensing and Land Charges Assistant opportunity, he was excited to share it with me and help me through the process. 

“I’m finding my new role interesting – it keeps me busy and also has great career opportunities. If people are struggling for work, I'd suggest that they look up Ways to Work like I did and ask to get started with them as soon as possible.” 

Praising the Ways to Work programme and Ryan for his progress, Lorraine Simpson, Licensing and Land Charges Manager at St Helens Borough Council said: 

"The Ways to Work programme is not just beneficial to the client, but also the employer too – as it is a way of uncovering new talent which is certainly the case with Ryan who has settled in well since joining us, despite having no previous experience in this area and of course the current challenging climate we find ourselves in. 

“Ryan is now the second person to join licensing through Ways to Work, having gained Alisha Bate through the programme which has helped find us two very valuable members of staff, both of whom have impressed me with their work ethic and determination to learn – and I’m very much looking forward to seeing how they progress. "

Hailing the impact of the Ways to Work initiative, St Helens Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Business, Councillor Kate Groucutt, said: “As a council we are committed to supporting local people into employment – so it’s great to hear about the fantastic work that has come out of our Ways to Work scheme. 

“The team are looking to reach out to even more people like Ryan to help them develop new skills and achieve their true potential, so if you – or someone you know - would benefit from this programme, please get in touch and the team would be more than happy to help.” 

Ways to Work is designed to improve personal resilience and progress to sustainable employment for people over the age of 16 who are signed up to the programme which is part-funded by the European Social Fund and Youth Employment Initiative Funding. 

You can register by emailing waystowork@sthelens.gov.uk or call 01744 676131.