From education to employment

South Birmingham College boosts employability as CIPD reveals continued workplace pessimism

More than 240 students have benefited from a new Job Shop initiative at South Birmingham College, which has proven so successful it is to be rolled out across all of the college’s campuses.

Since January, college career advisor Hayley Ridewood has held twice-weekly workshops at the college’s specialist construction campus, where students are given help creating and updating CVs, using job search engines and preparing for interviews.

Ms Ridewood recognised that repeatedly giving similar advice to students one-to-one was inefficient, so set up the Job Shop to counter this. She reserved special praise for the proactive attitude of her students.

“All of these students have attended voluntarily and have created a fantastic atmosphere,” she said.

One student to benefit from the Job Shop was Kerri Jayne-Mills , 19, a Plumbing Level 2 student from Sheldon.

“I came into the Job Shop and got help from Hayley with my CV,” she said.

“I have now got a Saturday job as a cashier at Brighthouse and started two weeks ago.”

Matthew Clancy, 19, of Solihull and also a Plumbing Level 2 student, secured an Apprenticeship with a local plumbing firm.

“The help I got from the Job Shop to do my CV and a mock interview really helped,” he said.

The Job Shop’s success highlights the need for different approaches to finding employment in an ever-changing job market, on the day that a new study reveals job satisfaction levels among public sector workers have sunk to record lows.

The Employee Outlook survey, conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD), suggests that the economic recovery indicated by today’s new GDP figures has yet to filter through to the workplace. Some 40 per cent of public sector employees say their employer is planning to make redundancies, with more than half of those polled reporting pay freezes.

A likely contributing factor to these results is the knowledge that public sector cuts are coming, but senior staff do not know where or when they will take effect and so remain silent.

Ben Wilmott, senior public policy Adviser for the CIPD, said: “It is worrying to see that public sector employees have increasingly negative attitudes to their senior managers. Today’s official GDP figures may suggest the economy is continuing to move away from recession, however the reality for many in the workplace is that they still feel like they are in the grip of a severe economic downturn.”

While the public sector figures make for especially worrying reading, the CIPD claims the overall picture is similarly bleak. Its job satisfaction index has fallen to a record low, with 18 per cent considering redundancy a likely prospect, and two-thirds believing they would struggle to find another job.

Mr Wilmott stressed the need for senior managers to maintain open dialogue with employees.

He said: “It is important that they communicate the situation to staff. People are more likely to accept tough decisions if they are kept informed and given the right information at the right time.”

Such pessimism in the public sector is alarming and a very real indicator of how the workplace is changing. South Birmingham College are to be applauded for being so proactive in identifying that the FE sector has a role to play not just the skills, but the tools to find employment in an increasingly competitive job market.

Nathan Brown

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