The meeting opened with an introduction from organiser Phil Johnson of Opportunity Sheffield, who welcomed attendees to Edisons Coffee, the venue selected by host organisation Wise Ability.
First to the stand was Joe Gabbert of Sheffield Foyer, who explained how the charity is transforming opportunities for young people experiencing homelessness. He noted that Sheffield Foyer has clients who could potentially be referred to employability programmes, but a little more notice is needed to secure their engagement and commitment to a particular course.
Following Joe was John Powell of Opportunity Sheffield, who spoke about capacity-building within the local employability community and the potential to organise relevant training for professionals working within the sector. He invited suggestions from attendees as to the form this would take, and the types of training employability professionals may find helpful.
Kate Liddle from PeoplePlus Academy drew attention to the range of courses available through the company, including distance learning programmes. She highlighted the flexibility of the registration format and the opportunities for funding for eligible candidates. Kate also invited attendees to a festive gathering at Portland House on Thursday 6th December.
Next to the stand was Vanda Kewley of The Suit Works, who was excited to announce the imminent launch – funding pending – of She Works, a new venture designed to offer interview clothing for female job candidates in need. She explained the need to secure donations of clothing and accessories, and also identify new, affordable premises.
Linda Mason from the Department for Work and Pensions provided a useful update on Universal Credit, which has already rolled out at Cavendish Court, Bailey Court and Chapeltown Jobcentre Plus locations, and will be fully active in Sheffield from 12th December. She explained that 55 awareness sessions have now taken place locally to ease implementation of the new benefits regime.
The next speaker was Smaira Sadique of Lifelong Learning at Sheffield City Council, who drew attention to the work the FACES team (Family and Community Education Services) does across Sheffield to engage with local people and boost their employment prospects. She also drew attention to the upcoming Next Steps event on Thursday 10th January.
Martin Brighton introduced BabYi, a charity set up to raise public awareness of child abandonment, to support affected individuals – including mothers and children – and attempt to tackle the causes. He highlighted the potential cost of abandoned babies to society and suggested ways in which employability solutions can be a positive influence.
The final speaker was The Source’s Sue McFarlane, who highlighted the range of courses available with the training provider at present. She explained how referrals are being sought for a Traineeship scheme, a Sector-based Work Academy which promises potential jobs with telecoms firm Plusnet, and The Source’s apprenticeship programme.
The meeting drew to a close at 11:20am, at which time Phil drew the Business Card Raffle. 1st prize this month went to Kate Liddle of PeoplePlus, who claimed a box of Milk tray chocolate and a ‘highly sought-after’ Opportunity Sheffield pen.
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