I enjoyed dropping in to the new temporary job centre in Castle Quay Shopping Centre today, to see how everything is going. The new temporary site was launched in anticipation of increases in demand for the Department of Work and Pension’s services as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
I met Partnership Manager for Oxfordshire, Sally Green, and Customer Service Leader, Alison Keech, who showed me round the site. I was surprised at how spacious the room was and it felt very relaxed and inviting. DWP District Operations Leader for Oxfordshire, Junior King, explained to me that the new modern look and feel helps break down traditional barriers. There were rows and rows of booths with over a dozen Work Coaches on hand to engage with and support job seekers.
I participated in a roundtable discussion with the team to discuss employment in Banbury, the Flexible Support Fund, and the Kickstart Scheme. We also discussed how we can increase outreach to minority groups. It was good to hear how many current opportunities there are in North Oxfordshire and the team could not speak more positively about in to work figures in the area.
Employers use the centre regularly to meet and interview candidates. I met one of these local employers, Skills Beyond School, and spoke with their Marketing Coordinator who I was encouraged to hear is currently employed on the Government’s Kickstart Scheme. The scheme is a brilliant way for businesses of all sizes to provide a 6-month fully funded job opportunity for young people aged 16 to 24.
Kickstarter, Hannah Martinez-Holloway, said:
“Once I finished my University degree, I was struggling to find work especially due to the impact COVID-19 has had on the economy. I was then advised by the Universal Credit team that I would be entitled to a Kickstart career, as I was between the ages of 16 and 24. This Government funded scheme allowed those who were struggling to find work and were at risk of long-term unemployment to 'kickstart' their career in a range of different fields.”
“I started working with Skills Beyond School as their Marketing Coordinator as this is an area I wanted to develop my skills in, and have already been able to learn invaluable lessons working 1:1 with my Managing Director. The best thing about this scheme is that I am constantly learning on the job, have the full support of senior members and can develop my learning with multiple courses which are available to me.”
“Skills Beyond School helps to find alternative routes into education and work via Apprenticeships, which is important to me as I feel we are making a real positive impact on the education system as the company develops.”