22. Employment Project - Northern Arc Regeneration Project, Bristol
This project provides a link between unemployed people with skills and employers with job vacancies. Through existing and customised training it also equips people for the available jobs.
Much of the activity centres on outreach work: the project worker holds advice sessions at drop-in centres in each of the three wards covered by the project. These aim to identify clients' employment or training needs, and to match these either with an appropriate job vacancy or with training that will improve employability.
The Northern Arc projects cover three wards to the north of Bristol city centre: Lawrence Weston, Henbury and Southmead. Since 1981 the area has been in steady decline, a reflection of the loss of industrial and manufacturing capacity in the area. Rising crime, teenage pregnancies and a high rate of infant mortality have compounded worsening social conditions. The incidences of lone parents and young mothers are higher than elsewhere in the city, and the area has higher proportions of very young children and of the elderly. More than half of all households in the area - over twice the city average - are local authority tenants.
Characteristics of specific relevance to this project include the following:
The Employment Project was built on and combines the experience of two previous SRB projects concerned with local labour initiatives. It became operational in December 1997, and is approved until March 2004. The project's strategic objectives are tailored to match those of the SRB scheme.
The idea of the project was originally proposed by the Southmead Area Housing Office, and was based on the idea of a local labour brokerage service. It was subsequently broadened to include all job opportunities available to residents in the Northern Arc area. WESTEC helped to develop the project, along with Bristol City Council's Housing Department and the Employment Service, and the TEC is now its lead partner.
The project has now established a permanent base at the Westbury on Trym job centre, but activity is concentrated in the drop-in centres that have been set up in each of the three wards.
The project worker attends regular brokerage sessions at each of these centres, at which clients' employment and training needs can be identified and matched with training or a job vacancy. These sessions are now attracting a steady stream of clients.
Another outcome of the project has been the creation of a network of other groups working in the area who have related concerns. These include groups working in education, training, employment, health, housing, and youth and community issues. This enables the project worker to direct clients to appropriate services offered by other providers: for example, there seem to be frequent referrals to New Deal advisors. It is also useful in facilitating the identification of training courses and job vacancies in the area, and in helping to identify skills shortages in the area. In addition, clients are often referred to the project by other agencies such as these.
The total funding required by the project over its seven years is £519,000. The SRB provides £190,000 of this, with the £329,000 balance made up from other public funding.
Outcomes and achievements
The principal achievements of the Employment Project are the establishment of regular drop-in employment and training brokerage sessions, and the creation of a network of local organisations, as described above. These have led to:
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