From education to employment

City & Guilds funding: changing the lives of individuals and charities hardest hit by the pandemic

Kirstie Donnelly MBE, CEO of City & Guilds Group
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City & Guilds (@cityandguilds) Covid fund works with charities and individuals to support them with accessing training and staying in long-term employment

The City & Guilds Group has awarded £100k in funding through its Foundation to support young people and those from diverse backgrounds continue to access training and long-term employment opportunities during Covid-19. Funds have been awarded to six charities and organisations who help those furthest from the labour market access training programmes. The fund has focussed on supporting employment and training in charitable organisations to ensure they can continue their important work in these uncertain times. The City & Guilds fund has also financed eight bursaries to help people gain qualifications that enable them to move from declining industries to high-growth sectors.

The funding is part of City & Guilds Groups’ mission to give everyone the chance to access recognised and valued skills training that helps people find practical routes into employment, a mission that has become ever more urgent due to the pandemic. Latest ONS employment data shows that in the three months to November 2020, the redundancy rate reached a record high of 14.2 per thousand, rising to 16.2 per thousand for the age group 25 to 34 who are facing the biggest risk of losing their jobs. [i]City & Guilds Group’s own research into the impact of COVID [ii] found that people from lower socio-economic groups were less likely to believe that they have the support needed to get a new job in this pandemic. The Recovery and Resilience report found that affordability was a key blocker preventing people from undertaking vital training and skills development to get back into employment as 33% of those from a lower socio-economic background said that they could not afford training, rising to 59% amongst people who are already unemployed. 

Kirstie Donnelly, CEO of City & Guilds Group, said:

“It is critical that we act now to provide lifelines for those most in need to enter the workforce in these tough and challenging conditions. From supporting those from lower socio-economic groups and young people who we know will be most badly impacted by the spike in unemployment through to helping people from industries in decline to retrain into new roles, we must ensure that everyone has fair access to skills training that leads to long term employment. The role of City & Guilds in helping people build skills and find practical routes into employment, no matter what their circumstances, rings truer than ever. We are proud to be supporting organisations through our Covid fund to ensure this important work can continue during these uncertain times.

The City & Guilds Covid fund grants have been distributed to six charities and organisations, five of which are from its Princess Royal Training Awards network, whose alumni have a proven track record in delivering exceptional learning and development programmes to a diverse range of service users. These have been awarded to:

  • Snow-Camp: Working closely with those excluded from education, in care and in the youth justice system, Snow-Camp was established by a former youth worker who believed that snow sports could be successfully used as a catalyst to turn young people’s lives around. Programmes are developed and delivered by young people and this peer-to-peer element is fundamental to the charity’s growth and success. The young people who become volunteers or apprentices for the charity act as its voice in their communities helping at-risk peers feel more positive about themselves and reducing negative behaviour. The £11,815 funding will allow young people to be trained in their peer mentorship programme with a focus on mental health awareness.
  • CAIS: A £10,000 grant has been made to this leading voluntary sector provider of personal support services in Wales. The funding will support 50 people through training and assessment to qualifying for their Construction Skills Certificate Scheme card which permits them to work on building sites. The £200 cost of the card can be prohibitive for those on low income. The scheme intends to remove barriers to employment and help people into meaningful long-term employment in an industry which continues to operate during the pandemic.
  • Resurgo: This charity’s Spear Programme helps young people facing disadvantage into work or education, equipping them with confidence, motivation and the vital skills they need to succeed in long-term employment. It works with disadvantaged young people using coaching, impact management, leveraging local expertise and scaling up – we bring individuals, businesses, charities and churches together to cultivate change. The £7,500 award allowed two people to become trained coaches who have since been hired to work on the Spear Programme, enabling them to support young people into employment.
  • The Haven Wolverhampton: The Haven Wolverhampton supports women and dependent children who are vulnerable to domestic violence, homelessness and abuse. The £9,800 grant will allow them to develop a new qualification for staff to acquire the skills and knowledge needed to support high risk domestic abuse victims and survivors. This has never been more important to support given there has been a 65% increase in calls and contacts logged by the National Domestic Abuse Helpline between April and June 2020, compared with the first three months of the year.
  • Reprezent Radio: A £9,300 grant has been made to this Brixton youth-led radio station which supports young people to develop skills in radio production, ICT, communication, skills and confidence building. The funding will allow Reprezent Radio to offer one young person an employment and development programme which will see them develop industry-specific training and wider employability skills.
  • St Giles : St Giles’s peer advisor programme allows  people experiencing severe disadvantage to work towards a qualification that allows them to develop vital skills, including on-the-job training. A £25,000 grant was awarded to enable them to build their digital platform, allowing them to take their peer mentoring services online during the pandemic. The platform went live in May 2020 and its use has grown steadily over the months with 120 peer advisors using it across all regions in which St Giles operates in.

In addition, the City & Guilds Group supported eight individuals from across the UK who had been impacted by Covid-19. One of those individuals, Michael, had worked in the entertainment industry all his life but when Covid hit in March there was no more work for him at all. After hitting rock bottom just before the summer, he decided to apply for a bursary to retrain as an electrician as he was always interested in the more techy side of putting on an entertainment show like lighting and audio rigs. The bursary from City & Guilds has allowed him to begin his Level 2 and Level 3 diploma in Electrical Installations which is an opportunity for him to reskill and hopefully gain full time, permanent employment.

Speaking about the fund, Sally Eley, City & Guilds Foundation Director said:

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‘The City & Guilds Foundation is all about removing barriers to getting a job, celebrating best practice on the job, and advocating for jobs of the future. This has been a difficult time for many charities and we’re pleased that since the pandemic hit nearly a year ago we’ve been able to support six charities and eight individuals with funding which is at the core of what we do as an organisation – allowing people to develop their skills. It’s not often we hear positive news stories at the moment, but this is one we’re delighted to share – and we look forward to working closer with these organisations and individuals whilst measuring the impact of our funding over the next year.’

About the City & Guilds Group

We support over 4 million people each year to develop skills that help them into a job, develop on that job and to prepare for their next job. As a charity, we’re proud that everything we do is focused on achieving this purpose.

Through our assessment and credentialing, corporate learning and technical training businesses, we partner with our customers to deliver work-based learning programmes that build competency to support better prospects for people, organisations and wider society. We create flexible learning pathways that support lifelong employability, because we believe that people deserve the opportunity to (re)train and (re)learn again and again – gaining new skills at every stage of life, regardless of where they start.

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