The Employment initiative ‘Let’s Work’, funded by the Social Investment Fund (SIF) under the Delivering Social Change framework has drawn to a close recently with the publication of the final evaluation, showing the impact it has made.  It has helped 105 people gain full permanent employment as a result of the programme success. 75 of those participants have sustained employment for six months.

The project, which commenced in October 2019, received £1.68m investment from SIF to help address employment related issues in areas of socio-economic need across Northern Ireland.  The programme sought to widen access to jobs, improve skill levels and increase personal confidence. The pandemic posed challenges for the host businesses and participants, but despite this, 160 people were placed and received experience as well as training in their relevant role.

In total, 85 businesses and organisations provided work placements in several sectors including retail, health, hospitality, IT, service and haulage with some of those businesses providing more than one opportunity. Over 438 qualifications were achieved in areas including Customer Service, Mental Health, First Aid, Social Media, Copy Writing, Safeguarding, Forklift Training, and Debt Management. Additionally, many achieved training and mentoring to help them further their career prospects.

A TEO spokesperson said: “The Let’s Work project has had real and lasting benefits, not just for those involved but for our whole society. The results of the project speak for themselves which is all the more impressive given the obstacles it has faced. Through collaboration from the early stages right through to delivery, communities and local people are now benefiting from key Social Investment Fund supported initiatives such as the Let’s Work Project, which provide vital community services and meet people’s needs.”

Manager of Carrickfergus Enterprise, Kelli McRoberts said: “We are delighted with the positive outcomes of the programme which have enabled so many people locally and regionally to gain new skills and secure long-term employment. The aims of the project included, improving employability, enhancing skills and engaging with people from a diverse community. Of those participants, 53% were unemployed for more than one year before entering the programme, which is really encouraging. 83% of participants felt their employment position had changed as a result of project.  With 78% seeing an improvement in their confidence and self-esteem.

“I would like to thank the participating host businesses for their continued support during what has been a challenging two years. The resilience and valued support shown by the companies has not only supported in participant’s work lives, but also socially. They have been key to make the programme a real success.”

Carrickfergus Enterprise provided strategic leadership to the scheme and employability specialists, Network Personnel were responsible for the operational delivery of training and placement provision.

Chief Executive Officer of Network Personnel Georgina Grieve said: “We are delighted with the outcomes achieved through the ‘Lets Work’ programme and the positive impact this has had on the lives of all those that participated. As employability specialists we knew the pandemic would present many operational challenges for the programme and we want to sincerely thank the organisations and participants that took part for their exceptional support, resilience and co-operation. The results and outcomes achieved during and after the programme are a testament to them.”