I was invited by DWP staff to visit their new Jobcentre, which is located in the Fishergate Centre in the space formally occupied by Argos.
I was shown around by Tracey Elmore, and Lorraine Townson who updated me on the various initiatives and schemes in place to help jobseekers and the long- term unemployed back into work.
From left: Lorraine Townson, Customer Service Leader for Preston and Leyland, Mark Hendrick, Helen Capps, Youth Employability Coach and Tracey Elmore, Partnership Manager.
I was impressed to see that a more person-centred approach is widely being used to make the process of job seeking easier for claimants. There are regular job fairs at the centre and employers are often on site to speak to potential employees without the need for a formal application or interview process.
We discussed the impact of the the pandemic on unemployment and the subsequent success stories of young people and people with a declared health need to find suitable work. I am also encouraged by the extra support being given by specialist advisors who are experienced in dealing with claimants with mental health issues.
We also discussed the Kickstart scheme which has been particularly successful in Preston and Lancashire. This scheme provides funding to create new jobs for 16-24 year old on Universal Credit. Employers can choose to take on the young person after the scheme ends or alternatively the young person who has gained valuable work experience and a confidence boost will be better able to find a suitable position.
I had the opportunity to speak with a representative from Onward Homes, who were just one of the local employers on site that day to speak directly to claimants about training and career opportunities that they could provide. I was also able to talk to the jobseeker during this consultation about his training and career options.
This JobCentre site is in addition to the one at Gateway House on the Ringway and claimants can visit either site.
Image: Details of Work Clubs in Preston