Project updates

Additional information on EON up to March 2024

3 April 2024

New funding is in place now for the 2024/2025 financial year

On Tuesday 20th February Tom Wright of HELP Charity running the Employability for Overseas Nationals Project co-hosted an Employment/Training Event with Donald McLarty of the British Red Cross. The event took place at the Quaker Meeting House in Peterborough which has been used for various functions of the project.

10 organisations took part including Peterborough College and City College, the local Department of Work and Pensions, MIND, IXION training and Positive Steps a local care company. A total of 50 refugees attended representing a resounding success, there were many positive comments, and we hope for positive employment and training outcomes with refugees registering their details and handing CVs to multiple organisations.

Overview

The EU (AMIF) funding for Wellbeing and Work for Refugee Integration - EELGA SMP is coming to an end and therefore operational activities stopped in September 2023. Its replacement EON - EELGA SMP started in November 2023 and will serve a similar but more limited group of clients. There are two other employment projects operating in the East of England (Refugee Employment Programme (REP) | Get Set UK and STEP Ukraine | World Jewish Relief). A comparison of the various projects can be found here: PowerPoint Presentation (eelga.gov.uk). EON will also be more limited in terms of scope in that the wellbeing service has stopped and at the current time the project is only able to provide one IELTS course and none of the other courses before its planned end date of March 2024. 

Employment advisers

The changes stated above have led to an adjustment period for the partners involved with some modifications for employment advisers (EAs) and the areas in which they work. In Cambridgeshire, the EA moved employer, one of the Essex EAs switched to Hertfordshire and a new EA was recruited for Suffolk. Each of these EAs has required an adjustment period but is now seeing clients in their respective areas. In particular, building up relationships in Hertfordshire has taken some time; all the more so because the EA will be focusing on the Hong Kong community which can be hard to reach.

The employment advisers across the region worked with 1 Hong Konger, 21 Ukrainians, 7 others. In total, 26 of these people were interested in adult social care.

Activities undertaken this month include various networking events, drop-in sessions, completing skills assessments and action plans, reviewing CVs and applications, showing clients various websites, providing interview practice and reviewing interview results. There have also been referrals to ENIC for qualification equivalence.

Referrals to REP and STEP Ukraine are ongoing. The EAs report that the referral processes are relatively simple but there have been some delays to clients obtaining services from both providers. There have been some referrals into EON, in particular from the REP providers.

IELTS

It is pleasing that EON will be able to deliver one IELTS course if there is demand. This course is expected to start in January.

Adult social care (ASC)

The EAs continue to work hard at finding clients interested in adult social care and to identify the corresponding opportunities with good employers in the relevant county. With regard to adult social care, this is the feedback from our Norfolk EA and is representative of the EAs’ experience:

The main emerging risk is the predicted difficulty of registering clients who are interested in working in ASC, however, unexpectedly I feel that there is an emerging risk of client’s losing interest in ASC due to not getting interviews and the feeling of repeated rejection from applications. This is currently the concern with one of my ASC clients, who has begun exploring other sectors which, if they decide to pursue in place of ASC, then they will need to be referred to REP [a different refugee employment programme] instead. This, in my opinion, is due to employers not providing clients the opportunity to show their skills and abilities when they see no previous professional experience, or potentially, UK experience. Whilst there is a good supply of vacancies, there does appear to be a barrier with progressing past the application stage.
Whilst not currently resolved, I have explored a list of options that, when available, could improve a client’s chances of success in securing a job in ASC where little to no experience is held in ASC. The first one is to register clients onto the next available ASC Care Academies training, which would provide the knowledge aspect of the Care Certificate and also give the client an opportunity to meet employers with current vacancies who could potentially offer the client an interview. A second option being explored is to form a partnership agreement with an ASC employer, where they can provide a work placement for clients, with a reference upon completion and if possible, a guaranteed interview. One barrier to this is the DBS check, if the position is a volunteering position, then the DBS check can be free-of-charge, however this is not applicable to work placements. Therefore the possibility of offering a short-term volunteering placement, with the ability to provide a reference when needed seems the most likely outcome when this is established.

I did also note, that both clients applied to a large new care home that had opened in the county, both being told they were unsuccessful rather quickly after they submitted their applications.

On the more encouraging side, the Essex EA had positive contacts with ASC providers and indeed one client has started work (in December) for an ASC provider. In Bedfordshire 7 clients were invited to ASC interviews and we expect to report on their progress in the December report.

High skills clients

The high-skills employment adviser has explored doctors’ opportunities to fill medical clients’ to reduce time in re-training but allow them to use their medical knowledge/experience such as physician associates, GP assistants, paramedics, volunteer roles with St Johns which is developing a hub in Chelmsford. Connections have been made to Return to Social Work programme that is available for overseas clients and will provide 1:1 support and guidance. New connections with care work agencies in Peterborough, Luton and Bedfordshire, including providing CVs to be followed up by the EA’s.

Contact with the Workforce group (Essex) has been positive with over 96 employers; it has allowed many connections with NHS Trusts and Essex Councils with the opportunity to raise awareness of overseas clients. Sector-based sessions are being linked to careers events with the Deputy Regional Head of Nursing & Midwifery with either area or regional events to be delivered in March alongside ongoing planning meetings to include BNOs.

Entrepreneurialism

 In November the adviser has had initial 1-to-1s with 9 clients (one Hong Konger and 8 Ukrainians) and the first 2 training sessions have taken place covering the topics of Business Planning and Marketing. Further 1-1s have been available to clients.

MENTA has accepted 10 clients and has begun support sessions with 9. Each of the 9 have identified with the adviser the training sessions beneficial to their plans. 7 have completed online questionnaires to aid with understanding and developing their business communication skills. 3 have had further 1-to-1s in addition to their initial appointment to work on progressing with the plans to start a business / progress their early-stage business. All the remaining clients have further coaching sessions/1-to-1s booked for December and January. This represents one third of the total target number of clients (30) up to March 2024.

Some of the clients who transferred over from the previous programme have not all completed the official registration form as yet and this needs to be resolved.

Summary                                                                                                                                    

EON has started positively in each county and will continue to grow as the EAs increase their work in the relevant communities and adapt to the new target groups and focus areas. The numbers already interacting with MENTA to set up businesses is a success for this month.

Funding has been wholly arranged with local authorities to continue EON beyond its initial end date up to at least December 2024 and possibly March 2025. This will by necessity involve a procurement process for the EAs and IELTS/OET provider that will take place in early 2024. It is regrettable that this procurement process will involve further disruption to EON when stability would have been more preferable.

***

Please direct any questions about this report to: Gill Searl at [email protected] or 07790 973101

Overall project aim: We will provide an intensive, wrap around model of support across the region to overseas nationals with a focus on: Recruiting 60 people into the adult social care sector (ASC) and providing general employment support for Ukrainians, Hong Kongers and high skilled workers.

Overview

EON - EELGA SMP started in November 2023 to meet the needs of clients who cannot access Refugee Employment Programme (REP) | Get Set UK and STEP Ukraine | World Jewish Relief. A comparison of the various projects can be found here: PowerPoint Presentation (eelga.gov.uk). This month has seen 10 clients invited for interview with 6 clients being offered work, one in the adult social care sector.

  1. Employment advisers’ activities delivered.

The employment advisers continue their work with such activities as liaising with clients to create or improve their CVs and match them to job opportunities using Indeed, explaining how to search for jobs, understand job adverts, job descriptions, person specifications and how to write applications/apply with CV. Location specific activities were:

Cambridgeshire, HELP: Making good connections with Job Smart for training referrals, plus meetings with a local care company to start training/jobs through this company.

Essex, Essex Integration: The employment adviser contacted local ASC providers and shared clients’ CVs. He supported some clients with job interviews, referred three clients to CELTA courses and made one referral to ENIC.

Herts, Essex Integration: The Employment Adviser is establishing connections and networking with the local HK BNO community in Hertfordshire. He had a meeting with English Unlock regarding an employability workshop for HK BNOs. He met with the Regional Hong Kong Hub Coordinator to make the arrangements for the workshop, which will be delivered in February, and is sending emails to individuals from the Hong Kong community to introduce the project and our services. He met with the Refugee Council’s ESOL coordinator to promote the project and provide information about the support and eligibility criteria. He has also been contacting refugee support charities and local ESOL providers to promote EON.

Norfolk, Norfolk County Council’s People from Abroad Team: Provided drop-in sessions for in-person discussions/support. Held 1:1 sessions with clients, setting short, mid and long-term goals, exploring the steps required to achieve these goals. Sent CV templates and the Employment Support Pack to all clients. Using up-to-date CV, supported clients to apply for at least one job to demonstrate how this is done. Clients were then asked to apply for 2-3 jobs independently between appointments, and the links included in the weekly Current Opportunities email, then recording these on their Application Log which will also contain the roles applied for during appointments. Tracked applications progress using the Application Log, reviewed them and identified areas of improvement.

  1. Successes, achievements and milestones delivered during this reporting period.

Bedfordshire, BRASS: Clients have now had experience in interviews which will help them in other interviews if not successful this time. BRASS have established a connection with REP, with the result that one of those clients has applied to work for a company that organises events and is hopeful that he’ll get the job. Another client has agreed on a plan to volunteer with a charity in a position that is likely to help him secure a job closer to his profession.

Cambridgeshire, HELP: Clients going into employment and good networking setting up the foundations for future training/jobs.

Essex, Essex Integration: All clients have up-to-date CVs, Indeed accounts and they are all actively searching for jobs.

Herts, Essex Integration: Although our Employment Adviser is experienced, he is working in a new area and focusing on HK BNOs. He is now starting to get referrals in from local agencies.

Suffolk, Suffolk Refugee Support: Referrals to external training providers have increased.

  1. Emerging risks identified.

Bedfordshire, BRASS and Norfolk: Uncertainty of accommodation provision faced by those granted refugee leave is creating challenges. Clients are given a short period (days rather than weeks) to leave the Home Office accommodation and find somewhere to live. This is difficult due to the scarcity of affordable housing in Bedfordshire and their circumstances (unemployment, inability to secure references or a deposit). They are more concerned with finding a place to live than employment opportunities, even though work will improve their prospects of finding secure housing. Many new refugees refused to be registered because they did not have a fixed address and, importantly, they did not know where they’d end up living, e.g. one moved from Bedfordshire to Colchester. Similar issues identified in Norfolk. The Employment Adviser is coordinating support with other colleagues in NCC to provide EON offer in a timely way when housing issues have been addressed.

  1. Recruitment and feedback on the Adult Social Care sector

Bedfordshire, BRASS: A new client is in the early stages of thinking about how to write his CV for ASC, he is also at college part-time and is looking to work round his classes. One of our clients has been offered a managerial job by a care agency. Other clients are waiting to hear from them following their applications. The agency has told us that they are waiting for a new contract with the Council, and if they succeed, more jobs will be available. One applicant to the Care Workers' Charity was declined as although she has a care worker role, it is in a healthcare (rather than social care) setting. 

Cambridgeshire, HELP: The Employment Adviser has held meetings with a local care company with the idea that they will provide training for those interested in Adult Social Care. The company will also communicate with other care providers to provide job outcomes for those completing the training. Discussions with the Care Workers’ Charity on funding this are ongoing.

Our team has provided feedback to International Recruitment East about instances where private care providers are bringing people to Peterborough on sponsorship arrangements, giving them time limited accommodation when they arrive. One was given two weeks accommodation and then told that at the end of the two weeks they must find their own house. In some cases, the work promised before they arrived does not materialise and they are left with no income to provide food, housing and furniture. At that point, they are turning to foodbanks, Care Zone, and other charities for basic support. The Care Workers Charity is now aware, and IR East have linked Care Zone with Peterborough City Council’s IR East lead.

Essex, Essex Integration: Clients interested in ASC without a driving licence struggle to get jobs in ASC. Another client (Billericay) had a job interview in ASC and was offered a job but refused due to a conflict of shifts she was asked to do with childcare (single mother).

We have three clients actively looking for jobs in ASC (two Colchester and one Southend). The positive side was one of them was invited for an interview but unfortunately was not offered a job because she did not have a driving licence.

Essex County Council is launching a return-to-work programme for social workers, specifically for those interested in working in adult social care. The programme will start in January. As a result of this, five clients who were social workers in Hong Kong contacted us and showed interest in joining the programme. The Employment Adviser has supported these clients into joining the talent pool for Essex County Council which is the first step to join the social worker programme.

Norfolk, Norfolk County Council’s People from Abroad Team: There remains the risk of clients ‘giving up’ on applying for social care roles when they have been unsuccessful with applications or left without a response from employers. This has been exacerbated due to the Christmas break, with applicants concerned that they may not secure a job soon despite encouragement and explaining that December is often a slower month with recruitment processes due to people being off work during the festive period.

An example of this is a client, registered during November for ASC, who considered looking at other sectors following several unsuccessful applications and an unsuccessful interview. This client has now secured a role in a different sector after feeling like they were “not good enough” to work in ASC.

Another opportunity to increase recruitment into ASC has now become available as the dates for the next two Care Academies in Norwich (January 2024) and Great Yarmouth (February 2024), have been released and can be promoted to clients and will support with applications.

For January 2024 the Employment Adviser is working to secure a partnership agreement with an ASC employer, to offer work placement opportunities (with employer discussions needed regarding DBS costs), to further increase opportunities to clients.

Suffolk, Suffolk Refugee Support: Clients generally seem to have a negative idea about working in the care sector. We have taken time to explain to them all the opportunities available within this arena. Initial contact with clients remains good but the lack of clearly defined pathways into the social care sector is hindering recruitment. 

We recommend that IR East and other organisations working in the ASC sector look in-depth at “interrupted applications”, especially if they are using online recruitment. The sector finds itself in a competitive recruitment situation for people already resident in the UK and should make recruitment processes as simple as possible to avoid potential candidates moving on to sectors that have an easier process.

The driving theory webinars developed to assist with passing the theory test are available at Driving theory - EELGA SMP and the online self-study module is expected to be available in March 2024.  

 

  1. High skills clients.

Our high skills employment adviser continues to build up links within the NHS around the region to enable professionals to return to their previous careers. However, given the difficulties and long timescales involved, she is also pursuing alternatives that enable people to utilise their medical skills in other ways. These include paramedics, St. John’s Ambulance and the new NHS roles in allied health professions such as physician associate, general practice assistants.

  1. Entrepreneurialism.

MENTA has now accepted 11 clients and is conducting ongoing support sessions with 9 already. One is a Hong Kong BNO and the rest are Ukrainians. The new client accepted in December is deciding on their training session dates but has begun 1-1 support with their initial appointment.

The advisor held initial 1-1s with 1 client, and another 2 training sessions have taken place covering the topics of ‘Bookkeeping’ and ‘Be A Better Business Communicator’. Several clients have had at least one further follow-up 1-1 in December and/or been booked in for a further appointment in January or February to discuss progress, receive further formal 1 to 1 coaching and explore questions they may then have.

8 have now completed online Clarity4D questionnaires and received the resulting profile to aid with understanding and developing their business communication skills. 6 have had a further 1-1 in December to work on progressing with the plans to start a business / progress their early-stage business.  

All have been provided with the comprehensive support book ‘Planning and Running Your Business’ to support their journey.

Clients are very interested and active, however, whilst they would like to attend training sessions, for some their other commitments have already shown to have an impact on availability and attendance. The adviser has made arrangements to provide 1 client with the workshop training on a 1-1 basis to ensure they receive the training needed, but this would not be possible on a large scale. This does not necessarily threaten the delivery of the programme but may impact the amount of support individual clients can fit in with their lives during the remaining lifetime of the programme. Some are also experiencing Wi-Fi quality issues which has occasionally impacted ability to attend.

  1. Summary

EON started positively in each county, but with the second month of delivery being December, when absences due to Christmas holidays increase and recruitment activity slows, this has meant that project progress has been limited. Nevertheless, 6 clients were offered work, one in the ASC sector, 5 Hong Kong BNOs have joined the Essex County Council return to work programme for social workers and 9 clients are actively engaging with MENTA to set up businesses – all are notable successes. The efforts put in by all the advisers should yield better results in January.

Funding has been secured mainly from local authorities which will allow EON to continue up to at least December 2024 and possibly March 2025. This will by necessity involve a procurement process for the EAs and IELTS/OET provider that is currently underway.

Please direct any questions about this report to: Gill Searl at [email protected] or 07790 973101

Overview

EON - EELGA SMP started in November 2023 to meet the needs of clients who cannot access Refugee Employment Programme (REP) | Get Set UK and STEP Ukraine | World Jewish Relief. A comparison of the various projects can be found here: PowerPoint Presentation (eelga.gov.uk). This month has seen the employment advisers working with 111 clients since November 2023. 10 clients were invited for interview with 4 being offered work in the adult social care sector.

  1. Employment advisers’ activities delivered.

The employment advisers (EA) continue their work with such activities as liaising with clients to create or improve their CVs and match them to job opportunities using Indeed and other sites as well as specialised recruitment agencies, explaining how to search for jobs, understand job adverts, job descriptions, person specifications and how to write applications/apply with CV. Across the region the EAs are starting to see referrals for people who have completed the STEP Ukraine programme.

The EA in Peterborough continues to build up relationships with external partners to widen the opportunities for the clients, e.g. IXION training and Anglia Ruskin University. A job fair will take place there in February. The Norfolk EA offers a range of drop-in sessions and has trialled a joint session with the Shaw Trust, which worked well.

The Essex adviser has seen an increase in Ukrainian clients seeking general employment advice. In Hertfordshire work is ongoing to build up connections and networks with the Hong Kong BNO community. The EA and HK Hub continue to work on events and strategies that are attractive to Hong Kongers. The Hertfordshire numbers reflect this success.

  1. Successes, achievements and milestones delivered during this reporting period.

The employment advisers have also made referrals to MENTA for business start-up and self-employment as well as SLC for IELTS and OET courses – which will start in early March. Qualification equivalence through ENIC remains important for improving employment opportunities and this service has been used across the region 28 times since November 2023. 5 trainee positions have been secured in Peterborough with IKEA and these placements will start in March. In Norfolk one client secured a full-time finance assistant role and another was successful for a part-time teaching assistant post but was unable to take it up due to other commitments.

  1. Emerging risks identified.

The Norfolk EA is experiencing a lack of engagement with the project. On further enquiry, some clients are experiencing a range of challenging circumstances which mean they are unable to focus on work at this time.

Three of the employment advisers were sick during January so were only able to work for part of the month.

  1. Recruitment and feedback on the Adult Social Care (ASC) sector

Although some clients are seeing some success in obtaining ASC roles, the conversion rate from interested to employed remains very low. In Suffolk one person obtained a role and is completing the referencing process. The Cambridgeshire EA has seen two people invited for interview. Two people in Essex had successful interviews and two people in Bedfordshire have started work in the sector. One issue remains the request for experience. One client in Bedford will complete some online learning modules and will only receive a formal job offer once these and the DBS check are complete. There is a lack of ASC providers who are willing to offer volunteering or a work placement. In Norfolk, having contacted a few recommended employers, one responded the next day stating they do not plan to offer volunteering or work placement opportunities, whilst the others have not responded. The EA will continue to chase the non-responses and reach out to other reputable employers, whilst also continuing to look at volunteering roles offered through Get Involved Norfolk, which one client is using to apply for a volunteer befriender role. There has also been success around the region with 2 registering clients on ASC training courses with the hope of job opportunities opening up on completion.

The ASC sector needs to become more flexible and proactive in the competitive job market that it faces. Of the 72 people interested in ASC who our EAs have worked with since November 2023, only 6 have obtained work in the ASC sector. The roles are 4 care assistants, one support worker and one office administrator. The sector should consider how it can improve its public perception, make efforts to work with and train potential employees and have a detailed understanding of the barriers that refugees and others face when making applications.

  1. High skills clients.

Our high skills employment adviser continues to build up links within the NHS around the region to enable professionals to return to their previous careers. However, given the difficulties and long timescales involved, she is also pursuing alternatives that enable people to utilise their medical skills in other ways. These include paramedics, St. John’s Ambulance and the new NHS roles in allied health professions such as physician associate, general practice assistants.

Other careers such as social workers are being explored, 5 referrals have been sent to Essex Council for the Return to Social Work Programme, again this is a lengthy process so volunteer opportunities in this field are encouraged to prove ongoing experiential learning within the UK.

NHS England, East of England (NHSE, EoE) was approached by the NHSE Health Care Support Worker (HCSW) National Team to contribute to their series of widening access careers fairs which aim to highlight the extensive range of opportunities working in the NHS and this is aimed at refugees, asylum seekers and underrepresented groups. The High Skills Adviser is involved in the planning of this event, which takes place on 14th March at Holiday Inn, St. George’s Way, Stevenage, SG1 1HS, and will represent EON, attending with Dr Stephen Nickless to provide some guidance on the medical pathway, networking and understanding a variety of professions that will benefit our clients.

Some positive feedback from one of our doctors who has completed a free clinical attachment and is being supported within the same hospital in Colchester to find further paid opportunities (non-GMC, with the expectation he will be registered with his vast experience). Two others have started their placements.

  1. Entrepreneurship

MENTA has now accepted 19 clients and is conducting ongoing support sessions with 13. In January the adviser had initial meetings with 3 clients, and another 4 training sessions have taken place on various subjects. In total, 10 clients have now completed online Clarity4D questionnaires and received the resulting profile to aid with understanding and developing their business communication skills. 3 have had a further meeting in January to work on progressing with their plans to start a business / progress their early-stage businesses. All have been provided with the comprehensive support book ‘Planning and Running Your Business’ to support their journey. MENTA continues to prepare promotional activities for the programme.

The business adviser is experiencing a lack of availability to attend workshops and although this does not threaten the delivery of the programme, it may impact the amount of support individual clients can fit in with their lives during the remaining lifetime of the programme. Some are also experiencing Wi-Fi quality issues which has occasionally impacted ability to attend.

  1. Summary

EON continues to work with a pleasing number of clients and awareness of the project is gradually growing, especially within the Hong Kong community. Progress has been good in spite of various challenges, such as employment adviser sickness.

Funding has been secured from local authorities which will allow EON to continue up to March 2025. The procurement process is nearly complete with approvals expected imminently from the EELGA senior management team and Management Committee.

Please direct any questions about this report to: Gill Searl at [email protected] or 07790 973101

Project Report February 2024

Overall project aim: We will provide an intensive, wrap around model of support across the region to overseas nationals with a focus on: Recruiting 60 people into the adult social care sector (ASC) and providing general employment support for Ukrainians, Hong Kongers and high skilled workers.

  1. Employment advisers’ activities delivered.

Employment advisers (EAs) continue to register new clients and refer them to both MENTA for business start-ups and SLC for IELTS and OET classes, which have started this month. The ENIC service to obtain statements of equivalence for overseas qualifications remains extremely popular and effective for our clients. Ongoing support to help people prepare applications and practise interviews has demonstrated success across the region. It is also important to note that new clients are also getting additional, necessary support such as for immigration matters in Bedford.

The EA in Hertfordshire continues to build links with local organisations and the Hong Kong community in particular. Hong Kongers remain concerned about sharing their details to check eligibility and complete the registration. The EA is working carefully with the clients to gain their trust and enable them to complete the registration.

Across the region, the EAs are encouraging clients to attend jobs fairs. For example, in Cambridgeshire 10 organisations attended a successful employment/training event that the EA organised jointly with the British Red Cross. 50 clients attended and signed up for various courses or registered with the employers who were present. In addition, a Peterborough jobs fair will take place in March and the EA is working hard to arrange for his clients to attend. The EAs continue to build relationships with a range of external partners including in Suffolk the NHS Clinical Workforce Programme for apprenticeship roles and Seetec Pluss (delivering the Restart Scheme). In Essex, some clients attended a jobs fair in Colchester

  1. Successes, achievements and milestones delivered during this reporting period.

The work put in by our EAs is beginning to show success with clients attending training courses and voluntary placements. Clients are increasingly getting interviews and therefore work outcomes.

In Cambridgeshire, fifteen clients are registered for the IKEA/Refugee Council work placement programmes starting in March and May.

In Norfolk the shared drop-in sessions with the Shaw Trust are going well and have benefited clients through sharing knowledge on employers and services. The EA supported a Preparing for Work in the UK workshop, organised by Shaw Trust and Global Libraries. He was able to share knowledge on different areas as well as promote EON in Norfolk. The Volunteer Coordinator in the People from Abroad Team was able to find two volunteers to support the clients. Both volunteers have extensive experience in interviewing, one in education, the other in social care. So far (February 2024) one mock interview was carried out by a volunteer, creating a more realistic interview situation with someone they had not previously met, whilst using questions the EA had written based on the role and research on the employer.

  1. Emerging risks identified.

The need to take holiday before the end of financial year affected EA availability in February and in addition a couple of the EAs are celebrating the births of babies and were therefore on paternity leave.

Clients referred to REP have seen slow responses to the referral. In addition, STEP Ukraine is coming to an end in July and is encouraging more referrals to take part before the project ends. The EAs are now seeing referrals back from people who have completed STEP Ukraine and have started working with these clients.

 

  1. Recruitment and feedback on the Adult Social Care sector

Although a number of clients wish to enter ASC such issues as low levels of English, no driving licence, family uncertainty (managing partner’s shifts) and transport to the job location hold people back from entering this sector. Two Essex clients started work in ASC in February/March. One client secured full-time work as a healthcare assistant. In Norfolk 4 clients were invited to interview: The first client (ASC) was successful at interview and secured a permanent Care Assistant role (33hrs)having participated in 4 interviews during the month. The second client (ASC) was invited to interview but was unsuccessful. However, feedback was positive and the interview itself, despite being the client’s first ever job interview, was very good. The client’s availability was the reason for not being successful. The third client (ASC) was invited to interview and is currently awaiting a response, having completed the interview today (08/03/2024). The fourth client has been invited to an interview later on in March and is currently preparing for this. In addition, there were two other clients who have little to no interview experience, but they both attended the Care Academy training so this is a positive step. The EA met with an employer who has said they will be able to offer interviews to clients and are recommended to the role. They are also considering offering practice interviews for clients wanting to work for their company. This company are also going to discuss with managers and look at personal care policies to see if there is anything that can support more Muslim women into ASC roles.

The advertising efforts by International Recruitment East resulted in contact from four care homes across Essex and the EA has shared clients’ CVs with them.

An adult social care provider attended the Peterborough recruitment event and has been in touch with a number of clients. The EA also been contacted by a couple of adult social care companies and offered opportunities to the clients.

The benefits of the sector working more closely with the EAs has been clearly demonstrated in February and this will continue in March. It is therefore regrettable that this focus will then end.

  1. High skills clients.

This month the focus has very much been on understanding the pathways into social work, pharmacy and nursing; this will be ongoing work as most of the pathways focus on the International Recruitment Pathways unlike other professions so pre-employment support is required.  5 social workers that have applied for the Return to Social Work Programme in Essex have been contacted and are waiting for the Talent Bank which is in the process of contacting the applicants.

The planning and briefing sessions for the NHS Stevenage Careers Fair for March 14th have been a focus for High Skills clients. Dr Stephens and Dr Rosser will assist EON in supporting doctors, GMC and HCPC queries, Chris Moore from SLC will support language queries, it will give the opportunity to further network and establish opportunities for clients.

A mentoring scheme is ready to be launched. The pilot programme will run with Norfolk County Council to mentor social workers and the Raham Project in Peterborough will offer mentoring to midwives/nurses.

Further financial support was provided to assist 2 doctors from the BMA (British Medical Association) for GMC registration and preparing for the PLAB 1 & 2 exams. This is ongoing as we get more doctors and develop further connections with the BMA.

Work is ongoing with the College of Paramedics to create apprenticeships for overseas nationals as an alternative route into the medical field.

Continued engagement with the West Essex HCP Workforce Group, breaking barriers for groups accessing employment within the NHS.

  1. Entrepreneurialism

MENTA has now accepted 22 clients however 1 person referred last month has confirmed they do not wish to continue and has withdrawn. This brings the total of active clients supported to 21. We are conducting ongoing support sessions with 18 of those 21 clients. A new client who was accepted in February was unable to attend their initial 1 to 1 and we are awaiting further instructions; 1 has their initial 1 to 1 booked in March and another in April.

In February the adviser had initial 1-1s with 5 clients, and another 4 training sessions have taken place covering the topics of ‘Be A Better Business Communicator’, ‘Business Planning’, ‘Marketing’ and ‘Bookkeeping’. Several clients had at least one further follow-up 1-1 in February and/or been booked in for a further appointment in March to discuss progress, receive further formal 1 to 1 coaching and explore questions they may then have. All clients have their next 1 to 1 date confirmed and booked.

In total, 13 clients have now completed online Clarity4D questionnaires and received the resulting profile to aid with understanding and developing their business communication skills. 7 clients have had a further 1-1 in February to work on progressing with the plans to start a business / progress their early-stage business. All have been provided with the comprehensive support book ‘Planning and Running Your Business’ to support their journey.

Clients are very interested and active, however, whilst they would like to attend training sessions, for some their other commitments continue to have an impact on availability and attendance. We continue to accommodate this issue with appropriate training/coaching on a 1-1 basis to ensure they receive the training needed, but this would not be possible on a large scale. This does not necessarily threaten the delivery of the programme but may impact the amount of support individual clients can fit in with their lives, meaning they will need to continue aspects of the programme beyond the original timeline of end of March. Occasional Wi-Fi issues have also impacted a couple of clients.

 

  1. Summary

This month has seen 12 clients invited for interview with 5 clients being offered work, two in the adult social care sector. The employment advisers have worked with 157 clients in total since November 2023.

It is pleasing to see the work with high skills clients expanding as the EA is working with a wider range of career ambitions and potential routes into medical work.

Good progress has been made with building links to Hong Kong communities. Trust is gradually being established and the numbers of BN(O) clients are expected to rise.

 

Please direct any questions about this report to: Gill Searl at [email protected] or 07790 973101

  1. Employment advisers’ activities delivered.

The employment advisers continued their work in March with a focus on adult social care (ASC) (see below). This was the last month for such a focus. Their activities included liaising with clients to create or improve their CVs and match them to job opportunities using Indeed, explaining how to search for jobs, understand job adverts, job descriptions, person specifications and how to write applications/apply with CV. 5 clients attended the Peterborough Jobs fair on March 8th. Also in Peterborough, 8 clients referred for the IKEA/Refugee Council work placement completed their training and attended interviews at IKEA. The employment adviser was proactive to ensure clients attended the training and their interviews. Two were successful and will start work in April. The Essex EA supported 2 clients with job interviews and guided clients to other courses and services such as free online courses, job fairs and specialised recruitment agencies. They continue to advertise EON to new and potential clients. The Hertfordshire EA attended the NHS Careers Fair in Stevenage and supported some clients during the event. They have been working intensively with clients and focusing on ASC with one of them. Contacts with Hong Kongers remain a challenge due to a lack of appreciation for the benefits that a dedicated Employment Adviser can offer.

In contrast interest from Ukrainians is strong, e.g. the Suffolk EA registered 8 new clients. They also participated in a Seetec Pluss (Restart Scheme) event in Bury St Edmunds on 6th of March, where they assisted several new clients. The Suffolk EA referred some clients to our colleagues in Norfolk and Essex following recent relocations and started promoting the driving theory module (see ASC section below) as well as relevant training and events to interested clients.

 

  1. Successes, achievements and milestones delivered during this reporting period.

The EAs continue to see some success in ASC. For example in Bedfordshire one client is making progress in her ASC application and is currently completing her DBS check - as she is an asylum seeker (with the right to work) the process is longer than usual. One client has been offered a job in ASC in Essex and the DBS check is pending. In addition,

IELTS and OET remain popular options as is qualification equivalence through ENIC.

In Hertfordshire the EA is continuing to build links with such referring organisations as the Refugee Council. Whilst in Suffolk there was a new enrolment for CSCS training through Bright Futures (Harlow College).

 

  1. Emerging risks identified.

Across the region interest in ASC is low. In addition, there appears to be a low take-up of the employment adviser offer from Hong Kongers and this also applies to the business advice through MENTA. Discussions are ongoing with the Hong Kong Hub to increase participation by Hong Kongers.

 

  1. Recruitment and feedback on the Adult Social Care sector

The Essex EA met with Anglia Autism to discuss clients getting into work. In general, connections with other ASC providers are improving. It is hoped that clients we have been working around the region with who will soon have a start date will still be able to apply for the £500 grant. In Peterborough the care provider who attended the job fair has offered a client work starting in April. Two other ASC providers were in contact towards the end of March.

The online, self-study module for driving theory went live at the end of March. As of 15 April 2024, there are 42 participants. All of the initial IT problems with email authentication have now been resolved and so any email address can be used to access the course. Evaluation data can be obtained on an ongoing basis from the surveys administered by SQW before and after the course.

 

  1. High skills clients.

Previous work has focused on the medical sector. The Medical Professional Group is providing expert advice on cases as and when needed. Clinical attachments are still available free, accommodation being explored to offer CA to doctors from other areas. However, the high skills clients are increasingly becoming more varied, e.g. accountants, interior designers, tech, lawyers, so research on these areas is ongoing.

We are working with Adult Social Services – Norfolk Council to allocate Return to Social Work Programme/Assistant Practitioner roles. We may have up to 8 clients interested in this, some keen to relocate to Norfolk if successful. Accommodation is currently offered to international social workers and may be explored for our clients.

We continue to explore alternative routes for doctors/medically trained clients. For example with the College of Paramedics with the potential for apprenticeships ring-fenced for EON clients.

The Stevenage NHS Recruitment fair was a successful event with in person attendance from SLC (IELTS and PET provider), Dr Stephen Nickless and Dr Elizabeth Rosser from Breaking Barriers to engage with high skills medical clients. There are over 30 new clients from this event that are in the process of being contacted for a range of sectors and EON registration if appropriate.

Refugee Action have offered 12 weeks of mentoring for High Skilled people supported by EON and asylum seekers within hotels; laptops and SIM cards may be provided.

Overseas nurses that have to complete the OSCE nursing competence test are struggling to pay the high costs; further meetings/research on developing a cost-effective programme that can be linked with the International Recruitment Teams (Herts) are ongoing.

A small pilot programme for mentoring has been launched and will be developed into a mentoring hub if the need is there.

 

  1. Entrepreneurialism

MENTA is now working actively with 21 clients with 3 more referrals yet to be processed, making a total of 24 clients against a target of 30. In March, MENTA ran 3 training sessions covering the topics of ‘Marketing’, ‘Make Me a Better Seller’ and ‘Bookkeeping’. 4 clients have had at least one further follow-up 1-1 in March and all clients have their next 1 to 1 booked in for a further appointment over April and May to discuss progress, receive further formal 1 to 1 coaching and explore questions they may then have. 1 client has completed their final 1 to 1 session in March. The remaining 3 clients will start work with MENTA in the new financial year.

In total, 13 clients have now completed online Clarity4D questionnaires and received the resulting profile to aid with understanding and developing their business communication skills with 3 due to be completed by end of April.

All have been provided with the comprehensive support book ‘Planning and Running Your Business’ to support their journey.

Very positive feedback continues to be received from clients and MENTA is planning a formal evaluation with those nearing completion of their learning journeys and will provide a report once their evaluations have been received (May).

Although clients are very interested and active, for some their other commitments continue to have an impact on availability and attendance. Menta continue to accommodate this issue with appropriate training/coaching on a 1-1 basis to ensure they receive training needed, but this would not be possible on a large scale. This does not necessarily threaten the delivery of the programme but may impact the amount of support individual clients can fit in with their lives meaning they will need to continue aspects of the programme beyond the original timeline for them of end of March. Occasional Wi-Fi issues have also impacted a couple of clients.

Menta have proactively shared their e-flyer with a couple of contacts who Menta know are looking after overseas refugees and also promote to any other MENTA clients. Menta have recently referred 3 possible clients to EAs for them to meet with and potentially register should they confirm eligibility.

Menta created a promotional video which will be used in ESOL lessons and other opportunities.

 

  1. Summary

EON 2023 (November 23 – March 24) has been a success with the employment advisers working with 176 clients. This is especially pleasing since the range of services on offer was limited in comparison to the predecessor project, WW4RI.

Funding has been secured mainly from local authorities which will allow EON to continue up to March 2025. The focus will switch away from adult social care and to asylum seekers who arrived before March 2023. The employment advisers will continue to a work with a wide range of eligible clients.

Please direct any questions about this report to: Gill Searl at [email protected] or 07790 973101

3 April 2024

New funding is in place now for the 2024/2025 financial year

On Tuesday 20th February Tom Wright of HELP Charity running the Employability for Overseas Nationals Project co-hosted an Employment/Training Event with Donald McLarty of the British Red Cross. The event took place at the Quaker Meeting House in Peterborough which has been used for various functions of the project.

10 organisations took part including Peterborough College and City College, the local Department of Work and Pensions, MIND, IXION training and Positive Steps a local care company. A total of 50 refugees attended representing a resounding success, there were many positive comments, and we hope for positive employment and training outcomes with refugees registering their details and handing CVs to multiple organisations.

Overview

The EU (AMIF) funding for Wellbeing and Work for Refugee Integration - EELGA SMP is coming to an end and therefore operational activities stopped in September 2023. Its replacement EON - EELGA SMP started in November 2023 and will serve a similar but more limited group of clients. There are two other employment projects operating in the East of England (Refugee Employment Programme (REP) | Get Set UK and STEP Ukraine | World Jewish Relief). A comparison of the various projects can be found here: PowerPoint Presentation (eelga.gov.uk). EON will also be more limited in terms of scope in that the wellbeing service has stopped and at the current time the project is only able to provide one IELTS course and none of the other courses before its planned end date of March 2024. 

Employment advisers

The changes stated above have led to an adjustment period for the partners involved with some modifications for employment advisers (EAs) and the areas in which they work. In Cambridgeshire, the EA moved employer, one of the Essex EAs switched to Hertfordshire and a new EA was recruited for Suffolk. Each of these EAs has required an adjustment period but is now seeing clients in their respective areas. In particular, building up relationships in Hertfordshire has taken some time; all the more so because the EA will be focusing on the Hong Kong community which can be hard to reach.

The employment advisers across the region worked with 1 Hong Konger, 21 Ukrainians, 7 others. In total, 26 of these people were interested in adult social care.

Activities undertaken this month include various networking events, drop-in sessions, completing skills assessments and action plans, reviewing CVs and applications, showing clients various websites, providing interview practice and reviewing interview results. There have also been referrals to ENIC for qualification equivalence.

Referrals to REP and STEP Ukraine are ongoing. The EAs report that the referral processes are relatively simple but there have been some delays to clients obtaining services from both providers. There have been some referrals into EON, in particular from the REP providers.

IELTS

It is pleasing that EON will be able to deliver one IELTS course if there is demand. This course is expected to start in January.

Adult social care (ASC)

The EAs continue to work hard at finding clients interested in adult social care and to identify the corresponding opportunities with good employers in the relevant county. With regard to adult social care, this is the feedback from our Norfolk EA and is representative of the EAs’ experience:

The main emerging risk is the predicted difficulty of registering clients who are interested in working in ASC, however, unexpectedly I feel that there is an emerging risk of client’s losing interest in ASC due to not getting interviews and the feeling of repeated rejection from applications. This is currently the concern with one of my ASC clients, who has begun exploring other sectors which, if they decide to pursue in place of ASC, then they will need to be referred to REP [a different refugee employment programme] instead. This, in my opinion, is due to employers not providing clients the opportunity to show their skills and abilities when they see no previous professional experience, or potentially, UK experience. Whilst there is a good supply of vacancies, there does appear to be a barrier with progressing past the application stage.
Whilst not currently resolved, I have explored a list of options that, when available, could improve a client’s chances of success in securing a job in ASC where little to no experience is held in ASC. The first one is to register clients onto the next available ASC Care Academies training, which would provide the knowledge aspect of the Care Certificate and also give the client an opportunity to meet employers with current vacancies who could potentially offer the client an interview. A second option being explored is to form a partnership agreement with an ASC employer, where they can provide a work placement for clients, with a reference upon completion and if possible, a guaranteed interview. One barrier to this is the DBS check, if the position is a volunteering position, then the DBS check can be free-of-charge, however this is not applicable to work placements. Therefore the possibility of offering a short-term volunteering placement, with the ability to provide a reference when needed seems the most likely outcome when this is established.

I did also note, that both clients applied to a large new care home that had opened in the county, both being told they were unsuccessful rather quickly after they submitted their applications.

On the more encouraging side, the Essex EA had positive contacts with ASC providers and indeed one client has started work (in December) for an ASC provider. In Bedfordshire 7 clients were invited to ASC interviews and we expect to report on their progress in the December report.

High skills clients

The high-skills employment adviser has explored doctors’ opportunities to fill medical clients’ to reduce time in re-training but allow them to use their medical knowledge/experience such as physician associates, GP assistants, paramedics, volunteer roles with St Johns which is developing a hub in Chelmsford. Connections have been made to Return to Social Work programme that is available for overseas clients and will provide 1:1 support and guidance. New connections with care work agencies in Peterborough, Luton and Bedfordshire, including providing CVs to be followed up by the EA’s.

Contact with the Workforce group (Essex) has been positive with over 96 employers; it has allowed many connections with NHS Trusts and Essex Councils with the opportunity to raise awareness of overseas clients. Sector-based sessions are being linked to careers events with the Deputy Regional Head of Nursing & Midwifery with either area or regional events to be delivered in March alongside ongoing planning meetings to include BNOs.

Entrepreneurialism

 In November the adviser has had initial 1-to-1s with 9 clients (one Hong Konger and 8 Ukrainians) and the first 2 training sessions have taken place covering the topics of Business Planning and Marketing. Further 1-1s have been available to clients.

MENTA has accepted 10 clients and has begun support sessions with 9. Each of the 9 have identified with the adviser the training sessions beneficial to their plans. 7 have completed online questionnaires to aid with understanding and developing their business communication skills. 3 have had further 1-to-1s in addition to their initial appointment to work on progressing with the plans to start a business / progress their early-stage business. All the remaining clients have further coaching sessions/1-to-1s booked for December and January. This represents one third of the total target number of clients (30) up to March 2024.

Some of the clients who transferred over from the previous programme have not all completed the official registration form as yet and this needs to be resolved.

Summary                                                                                                                                    

EON has started positively in each county and will continue to grow as the EAs increase their work in the relevant communities and adapt to the new target groups and focus areas. The numbers already interacting with MENTA to set up businesses is a success for this month.

Funding has been wholly arranged with local authorities to continue EON beyond its initial end date up to at least December 2024 and possibly March 2025. This will by necessity involve a procurement process for the EAs and IELTS/OET provider that will take place in early 2024. It is regrettable that this procurement process will involve further disruption to EON when stability would have been more preferable.

***

Please direct any questions about this report to: Gill Searl at [email protected] or 07790 973101

Overall project aim: We will provide an intensive, wrap around model of support across the region to overseas nationals with a focus on: Recruiting 60 people into the adult social care sector (ASC) and providing general employment support for Ukrainians, Hong Kongers and high skilled workers.

Overview

EON - EELGA SMP started in November 2023 to meet the needs of clients who cannot access Refugee Employment Programme (REP) | Get Set UK and STEP Ukraine | World Jewish Relief. A comparison of the various projects can be found here: PowerPoint Presentation (eelga.gov.uk). This month has seen 10 clients invited for interview with 6 clients being offered work, one in the adult social care sector.

  1. Employment advisers’ activities delivered.

The employment advisers continue their work with such activities as liaising with clients to create or improve their CVs and match them to job opportunities using Indeed, explaining how to search for jobs, understand job adverts, job descriptions, person specifications and how to write applications/apply with CV. Location specific activities were:

Cambridgeshire, HELP: Making good connections with Job Smart for training referrals, plus meetings with a local care company to start training/jobs through this company.

Essex, Essex Integration: The employment adviser contacted local ASC providers and shared clients’ CVs. He supported some clients with job interviews, referred three clients to CELTA courses and made one referral to ENIC.

Herts, Essex Integration: The Employment Adviser is establishing connections and networking with the local HK BNO community in Hertfordshire. He had a meeting with English Unlock regarding an employability workshop for HK BNOs. He met with the Regional Hong Kong Hub Coordinator to make the arrangements for the workshop, which will be delivered in February, and is sending emails to individuals from the Hong Kong community to introduce the project and our services. He met with the Refugee Council’s ESOL coordinator to promote the project and provide information about the support and eligibility criteria. He has also been contacting refugee support charities and local ESOL providers to promote EON.

Norfolk, Norfolk County Council’s People from Abroad Team: Provided drop-in sessions for in-person discussions/support. Held 1:1 sessions with clients, setting short, mid and long-term goals, exploring the steps required to achieve these goals. Sent CV templates and the Employment Support Pack to all clients. Using up-to-date CV, supported clients to apply for at least one job to demonstrate how this is done. Clients were then asked to apply for 2-3 jobs independently between appointments, and the links included in the weekly Current Opportunities email, then recording these on their Application Log which will also contain the roles applied for during appointments. Tracked applications progress using the Application Log, reviewed them and identified areas of improvement.

  1. Successes, achievements and milestones delivered during this reporting period.

Bedfordshire, BRASS: Clients have now had experience in interviews which will help them in other interviews if not successful this time. BRASS have established a connection with REP, with the result that one of those clients has applied to work for a company that organises events and is hopeful that he’ll get the job. Another client has agreed on a plan to volunteer with a charity in a position that is likely to help him secure a job closer to his profession.

Cambridgeshire, HELP: Clients going into employment and good networking setting up the foundations for future training/jobs.

Essex, Essex Integration: All clients have up-to-date CVs, Indeed accounts and they are all actively searching for jobs.

Herts, Essex Integration: Although our Employment Adviser is experienced, he is working in a new area and focusing on HK BNOs. He is now starting to get referrals in from local agencies.

Suffolk, Suffolk Refugee Support: Referrals to external training providers have increased.

  1. Emerging risks identified.

Bedfordshire, BRASS and Norfolk: Uncertainty of accommodation provision faced by those granted refugee leave is creating challenges. Clients are given a short period (days rather than weeks) to leave the Home Office accommodation and find somewhere to live. This is difficult due to the scarcity of affordable housing in Bedfordshire and their circumstances (unemployment, inability to secure references or a deposit). They are more concerned with finding a place to live than employment opportunities, even though work will improve their prospects of finding secure housing. Many new refugees refused to be registered because they did not have a fixed address and, importantly, they did not know where they’d end up living, e.g. one moved from Bedfordshire to Colchester. Similar issues identified in Norfolk. The Employment Adviser is coordinating support with other colleagues in NCC to provide EON offer in a timely way when housing issues have been addressed.

  1. Recruitment and feedback on the Adult Social Care sector

Bedfordshire, BRASS: A new client is in the early stages of thinking about how to write his CV for ASC, he is also at college part-time and is looking to work round his classes. One of our clients has been offered a managerial job by a care agency. Other clients are waiting to hear from them following their applications. The agency has told us that they are waiting for a new contract with the Council, and if they succeed, more jobs will be available. One applicant to the Care Workers' Charity was declined as although she has a care worker role, it is in a healthcare (rather than social care) setting. 

Cambridgeshire, HELP: The Employment Adviser has held meetings with a local care company with the idea that they will provide training for those interested in Adult Social Care. The company will also communicate with other care providers to provide job outcomes for those completing the training. Discussions with the Care Workers’ Charity on funding this are ongoing.

Our team has provided feedback to International Recruitment East about instances where private care providers are bringing people to Peterborough on sponsorship arrangements, giving them time limited accommodation when they arrive. One was given two weeks accommodation and then told that at the end of the two weeks they must find their own house. In some cases, the work promised before they arrived does not materialise and they are left with no income to provide food, housing and furniture. At that point, they are turning to foodbanks, Care Zone, and other charities for basic support. The Care Workers Charity is now aware, and IR East have linked Care Zone with Peterborough City Council’s IR East lead.

Essex, Essex Integration: Clients interested in ASC without a driving licence struggle to get jobs in ASC. Another client (Billericay) had a job interview in ASC and was offered a job but refused due to a conflict of shifts she was asked to do with childcare (single mother).

We have three clients actively looking for jobs in ASC (two Colchester and one Southend). The positive side was one of them was invited for an interview but unfortunately was not offered a job because she did not have a driving licence.

Essex County Council is launching a return-to-work programme for social workers, specifically for those interested in working in adult social care. The programme will start in January. As a result of this, five clients who were social workers in Hong Kong contacted us and showed interest in joining the programme. The Employment Adviser has supported these clients into joining the talent pool for Essex County Council which is the first step to join the social worker programme.

Norfolk, Norfolk County Council’s People from Abroad Team: There remains the risk of clients ‘giving up’ on applying for social care roles when they have been unsuccessful with applications or left without a response from employers. This has been exacerbated due to the Christmas break, with applicants concerned that they may not secure a job soon despite encouragement and explaining that December is often a slower month with recruitment processes due to people being off work during the festive period.

An example of this is a client, registered during November for ASC, who considered looking at other sectors following several unsuccessful applications and an unsuccessful interview. This client has now secured a role in a different sector after feeling like they were “not good enough” to work in ASC.

Another opportunity to increase recruitment into ASC has now become available as the dates for the next two Care Academies in Norwich (January 2024) and Great Yarmouth (February 2024), have been released and can be promoted to clients and will support with applications.

For January 2024 the Employment Adviser is working to secure a partnership agreement with an ASC employer, to offer work placement opportunities (with employer discussions needed regarding DBS costs), to further increase opportunities to clients.

Suffolk, Suffolk Refugee Support: Clients generally seem to have a negative idea about working in the care sector. We have taken time to explain to them all the opportunities available within this arena. Initial contact with clients remains good but the lack of clearly defined pathways into the social care sector is hindering recruitment. 

We recommend that IR East and other organisations working in the ASC sector look in-depth at “interrupted applications”, especially if they are using online recruitment. The sector finds itself in a competitive recruitment situation for people already resident in the UK and should make recruitment processes as simple as possible to avoid potential candidates moving on to sectors that have an easier process.

The driving theory webinars developed to assist with passing the theory test are available at Driving theory - EELGA SMP and the online self-study module is expected to be available in March 2024.  

 

  1. High skills clients.

Our high skills employment adviser continues to build up links within the NHS around the region to enable professionals to return to their previous careers. However, given the difficulties and long timescales involved, she is also pursuing alternatives that enable people to utilise their medical skills in other ways. These include paramedics, St. John’s Ambulance and the new NHS roles in allied health professions such as physician associate, general practice assistants.

  1. Entrepreneurialism.

MENTA has now accepted 11 clients and is conducting ongoing support sessions with 9 already. One is a Hong Kong BNO and the rest are Ukrainians. The new client accepted in December is deciding on their training session dates but has begun 1-1 support with their initial appointment.

The advisor held initial 1-1s with 1 client, and another 2 training sessions have taken place covering the topics of ‘Bookkeeping’ and ‘Be A Better Business Communicator’. Several clients have had at least one further follow-up 1-1 in December and/or been booked in for a further appointment in January or February to discuss progress, receive further formal 1 to 1 coaching and explore questions they may then have.

8 have now completed online Clarity4D questionnaires and received the resulting profile to aid with understanding and developing their business communication skills. 6 have had a further 1-1 in December to work on progressing with the plans to start a business / progress their early-stage business.  

All have been provided with the comprehensive support book ‘Planning and Running Your Business’ to support their journey.

Clients are very interested and active, however, whilst they would like to attend training sessions, for some their other commitments have already shown to have an impact on availability and attendance. The adviser has made arrangements to provide 1 client with the workshop training on a 1-1 basis to ensure they receive the training needed, but this would not be possible on a large scale. This does not necessarily threaten the delivery of the programme but may impact the amount of support individual clients can fit in with their lives during the remaining lifetime of the programme. Some are also experiencing Wi-Fi quality issues which has occasionally impacted ability to attend.

  1. Summary

EON started positively in each county, but with the second month of delivery being December, when absences due to Christmas holidays increase and recruitment activity slows, this has meant that project progress has been limited. Nevertheless, 6 clients were offered work, one in the ASC sector, 5 Hong Kong BNOs have joined the Essex County Council return to work programme for social workers and 9 clients are actively engaging with MENTA to set up businesses – all are notable successes. The efforts put in by all the advisers should yield better results in January.

Funding has been secured mainly from local authorities which will allow EON to continue up to at least December 2024 and possibly March 2025. This will by necessity involve a procurement process for the EAs and IELTS/OET provider that is currently underway.

Please direct any questions about this report to: Gill Searl at [email protected] or 07790 973101

Overview

EON - EELGA SMP started in November 2023 to meet the needs of clients who cannot access Refugee Employment Programme (REP) | Get Set UK and STEP Ukraine | World Jewish Relief. A comparison of the various projects can be found here: PowerPoint Presentation (eelga.gov.uk). This month has seen the employment advisers working with 111 clients since November 2023. 10 clients were invited for interview with 4 being offered work in the adult social care sector.

  1. Employment advisers’ activities delivered.

The employment advisers (EA) continue their work with such activities as liaising with clients to create or improve their CVs and match them to job opportunities using Indeed and other sites as well as specialised recruitment agencies, explaining how to search for jobs, understand job adverts, job descriptions, person specifications and how to write applications/apply with CV. Across the region the EAs are starting to see referrals for people who have completed the STEP Ukraine programme.

The EA in Peterborough continues to build up relationships with external partners to widen the opportunities for the clients, e.g. IXION training and Anglia Ruskin University. A job fair will take place there in February. The Norfolk EA offers a range of drop-in sessions and has trialled a joint session with the Shaw Trust, which worked well.

The Essex adviser has seen an increase in Ukrainian clients seeking general employment advice. In Hertfordshire work is ongoing to build up connections and networks with the Hong Kong BNO community. The EA and HK Hub continue to work on events and strategies that are attractive to Hong Kongers. The Hertfordshire numbers reflect this success.

  1. Successes, achievements and milestones delivered during this reporting period.

The employment advisers have also made referrals to MENTA for business start-up and self-employment as well as SLC for IELTS and OET courses – which will start in early March. Qualification equivalence through ENIC remains important for improving employment opportunities and this service has been used across the region 28 times since November 2023. 5 trainee positions have been secured in Peterborough with IKEA and these placements will start in March. In Norfolk one client secured a full-time finance assistant role and another was successful for a part-time teaching assistant post but was unable to take it up due to other commitments.

  1. Emerging risks identified.

The Norfolk EA is experiencing a lack of engagement with the project. On further enquiry, some clients are experiencing a range of challenging circumstances which mean they are unable to focus on work at this time.

Three of the employment advisers were sick during January so were only able to work for part of the month.

  1. Recruitment and feedback on the Adult Social Care (ASC) sector

Although some clients are seeing some success in obtaining ASC roles, the conversion rate from interested to employed remains very low. In Suffolk one person obtained a role and is completing the referencing process. The Cambridgeshire EA has seen two people invited for interview. Two people in Essex had successful interviews and two people in Bedfordshire have started work in the sector. One issue remains the request for experience. One client in Bedford will complete some online learning modules and will only receive a formal job offer once these and the DBS check are complete. There is a lack of ASC providers who are willing to offer volunteering or a work placement. In Norfolk, having contacted a few recommended employers, one responded the next day stating they do not plan to offer volunteering or work placement opportunities, whilst the others have not responded. The EA will continue to chase the non-responses and reach out to other reputable employers, whilst also continuing to look at volunteering roles offered through Get Involved Norfolk, which one client is using to apply for a volunteer befriender role. There has also been success around the region with 2 registering clients on ASC training courses with the hope of job opportunities opening up on completion.

The ASC sector needs to become more flexible and proactive in the competitive job market that it faces. Of the 72 people interested in ASC who our EAs have worked with since November 2023, only 6 have obtained work in the ASC sector. The roles are 4 care assistants, one support worker and one office administrator. The sector should consider how it can improve its public perception, make efforts to work with and train potential employees and have a detailed understanding of the barriers that refugees and others face when making applications.

  1. High skills clients.

Our high skills employment adviser continues to build up links within the NHS around the region to enable professionals to return to their previous careers. However, given the difficulties and long timescales involved, she is also pursuing alternatives that enable people to utilise their medical skills in other ways. These include paramedics, St. John’s Ambulance and the new NHS roles in allied health professions such as physician associate, general practice assistants.

Other careers such as social workers are being explored, 5 referrals have been sent to Essex Council for the Return to Social Work Programme, again this is a lengthy process so volunteer opportunities in this field are encouraged to prove ongoing experiential learning within the UK.

NHS England, East of England (NHSE, EoE) was approached by the NHSE Health Care Support Worker (HCSW) National Team to contribute to their series of widening access careers fairs which aim to highlight the extensive range of opportunities working in the NHS and this is aimed at refugees, asylum seekers and underrepresented groups. The High Skills Adviser is involved in the planning of this event, which takes place on 14th March at Holiday Inn, St. George’s Way, Stevenage, SG1 1HS, and will represent EON, attending with Dr Stephen Nickless to provide some guidance on the medical pathway, networking and understanding a variety of professions that will benefit our clients.

Some positive feedback from one of our doctors who has completed a free clinical attachment and is being supported within the same hospital in Colchester to find further paid opportunities (non-GMC, with the expectation he will be registered with his vast experience). Two others have started their placements.

  1. Entrepreneurship

MENTA has now accepted 19 clients and is conducting ongoing support sessions with 13. In January the adviser had initial meetings with 3 clients, and another 4 training sessions have taken place on various subjects. In total, 10 clients have now completed online Clarity4D questionnaires and received the resulting profile to aid with understanding and developing their business communication skills. 3 have had a further meeting in January to work on progressing with their plans to start a business / progress their early-stage businesses. All have been provided with the comprehensive support book ‘Planning and Running Your Business’ to support their journey. MENTA continues to prepare promotional activities for the programme.

The business adviser is experiencing a lack of availability to attend workshops and although this does not threaten the delivery of the programme, it may impact the amount of support individual clients can fit in with their lives during the remaining lifetime of the programme. Some are also experiencing Wi-Fi quality issues which has occasionally impacted ability to attend.

  1. Summary

EON continues to work with a pleasing number of clients and awareness of the project is gradually growing, especially within the Hong Kong community. Progress has been good in spite of various challenges, such as employment adviser sickness.

Funding has been secured from local authorities which will allow EON to continue up to March 2025. The procurement process is nearly complete with approvals expected imminently from the EELGA senior management team and Management Committee.

Please direct any questions about this report to: Gill Searl at [email protected] or 07790 973101

Project Report February 2024

Overall project aim: We will provide an intensive, wrap around model of support across the region to overseas nationals with a focus on: Recruiting 60 people into the adult social care sector (ASC) and providing general employment support for Ukrainians, Hong Kongers and high skilled workers.

  1. Employment advisers’ activities delivered.

Employment advisers (EAs) continue to register new clients and refer them to both MENTA for business start-ups and SLC for IELTS and OET classes, which have started this month. The ENIC service to obtain statements of equivalence for overseas qualifications remains extremely popular and effective for our clients. Ongoing support to help people prepare applications and practise interviews has demonstrated success across the region. It is also important to note that new clients are also getting additional, necessary support such as for immigration matters in Bedford.

The EA in Hertfordshire continues to build links with local organisations and the Hong Kong community in particular. Hong Kongers remain concerned about sharing their details to check eligibility and complete the registration. The EA is working carefully with the clients to gain their trust and enable them to complete the registration.

Across the region, the EAs are encouraging clients to attend jobs fairs. For example, in Cambridgeshire 10 organisations attended a successful employment/training event that the EA organised jointly with the British Red Cross. 50 clients attended and signed up for various courses or registered with the employers who were present. In addition, a Peterborough jobs fair will take place in March and the EA is working hard to arrange for his clients to attend. The EAs continue to build relationships with a range of external partners including in Suffolk the NHS Clinical Workforce Programme for apprenticeship roles and Seetec Pluss (delivering the Restart Scheme). In Essex, some clients attended a jobs fair in Colchester

  1. Successes, achievements and milestones delivered during this reporting period.

The work put in by our EAs is beginning to show success with clients attending training courses and voluntary placements. Clients are increasingly getting interviews and therefore work outcomes.

In Cambridgeshire, fifteen clients are registered for the IKEA/Refugee Council work placement programmes starting in March and May.

In Norfolk the shared drop-in sessions with the Shaw Trust are going well and have benefited clients through sharing knowledge on employers and services. The EA supported a Preparing for Work in the UK workshop, organised by Shaw Trust and Global Libraries. He was able to share knowledge on different areas as well as promote EON in Norfolk. The Volunteer Coordinator in the People from Abroad Team was able to find two volunteers to support the clients. Both volunteers have extensive experience in interviewing, one in education, the other in social care. So far (February 2024) one mock interview was carried out by a volunteer, creating a more realistic interview situation with someone they had not previously met, whilst using questions the EA had written based on the role and research on the employer.

  1. Emerging risks identified.

The need to take holiday before the end of financial year affected EA availability in February and in addition a couple of the EAs are celebrating the births of babies and were therefore on paternity leave.

Clients referred to REP have seen slow responses to the referral. In addition, STEP Ukraine is coming to an end in July and is encouraging more referrals to take part before the project ends. The EAs are now seeing referrals back from people who have completed STEP Ukraine and have started working with these clients.

 

  1. Recruitment and feedback on the Adult Social Care sector

Although a number of clients wish to enter ASC such issues as low levels of English, no driving licence, family uncertainty (managing partner’s shifts) and transport to the job location hold people back from entering this sector. Two Essex clients started work in ASC in February/March. One client secured full-time work as a healthcare assistant. In Norfolk 4 clients were invited to interview: The first client (ASC) was successful at interview and secured a permanent Care Assistant role (33hrs)having participated in 4 interviews during the month. The second client (ASC) was invited to interview but was unsuccessful. However, feedback was positive and the interview itself, despite being the client’s first ever job interview, was very good. The client’s availability was the reason for not being successful. The third client (ASC) was invited to interview and is currently awaiting a response, having completed the interview today (08/03/2024). The fourth client has been invited to an interview later on in March and is currently preparing for this. In addition, there were two other clients who have little to no interview experience, but they both attended the Care Academy training so this is a positive step. The EA met with an employer who has said they will be able to offer interviews to clients and are recommended to the role. They are also considering offering practice interviews for clients wanting to work for their company. This company are also going to discuss with managers and look at personal care policies to see if there is anything that can support more Muslim women into ASC roles.

The advertising efforts by International Recruitment East resulted in contact from four care homes across Essex and the EA has shared clients’ CVs with them.

An adult social care provider attended the Peterborough recruitment event and has been in touch with a number of clients. The EA also been contacted by a couple of adult social care companies and offered opportunities to the clients.

The benefits of the sector working more closely with the EAs has been clearly demonstrated in February and this will continue in March. It is therefore regrettable that this focus will then end.

  1. High skills clients.

This month the focus has very much been on understanding the pathways into social work, pharmacy and nursing; this will be ongoing work as most of the pathways focus on the International Recruitment Pathways unlike other professions so pre-employment support is required.  5 social workers that have applied for the Return to Social Work Programme in Essex have been contacted and are waiting for the Talent Bank which is in the process of contacting the applicants.

The planning and briefing sessions for the NHS Stevenage Careers Fair for March 14th have been a focus for High Skills clients. Dr Stephens and Dr Rosser will assist EON in supporting doctors, GMC and HCPC queries, Chris Moore from SLC will support language queries, it will give the opportunity to further network and establish opportunities for clients.

A mentoring scheme is ready to be launched. The pilot programme will run with Norfolk County Council to mentor social workers and the Raham Project in Peterborough will offer mentoring to midwives/nurses.

Further financial support was provided to assist 2 doctors from the BMA (British Medical Association) for GMC registration and preparing for the PLAB 1 & 2 exams. This is ongoing as we get more doctors and develop further connections with the BMA.

Work is ongoing with the College of Paramedics to create apprenticeships for overseas nationals as an alternative route into the medical field.

Continued engagement with the West Essex HCP Workforce Group, breaking barriers for groups accessing employment within the NHS.

  1. Entrepreneurialism

MENTA has now accepted 22 clients however 1 person referred last month has confirmed they do not wish to continue and has withdrawn. This brings the total of active clients supported to 21. We are conducting ongoing support sessions with 18 of those 21 clients. A new client who was accepted in February was unable to attend their initial 1 to 1 and we are awaiting further instructions; 1 has their initial 1 to 1 booked in March and another in April.

In February the adviser had initial 1-1s with 5 clients, and another 4 training sessions have taken place covering the topics of ‘Be A Better Business Communicator’, ‘Business Planning’, ‘Marketing’ and ‘Bookkeeping’. Several clients had at least one further follow-up 1-1 in February and/or been booked in for a further appointment in March to discuss progress, receive further formal 1 to 1 coaching and explore questions they may then have. All clients have their next 1 to 1 date confirmed and booked.

In total, 13 clients have now completed online Clarity4D questionnaires and received the resulting profile to aid with understanding and developing their business communication skills. 7 clients have had a further 1-1 in February to work on progressing with the plans to start a business / progress their early-stage business. All have been provided with the comprehensive support book ‘Planning and Running Your Business’ to support their journey.

Clients are very interested and active, however, whilst they would like to attend training sessions, for some their other commitments continue to have an impact on availability and attendance. We continue to accommodate this issue with appropriate training/coaching on a 1-1 basis to ensure they receive the training needed, but this would not be possible on a large scale. This does not necessarily threaten the delivery of the programme but may impact the amount of support individual clients can fit in with their lives, meaning they will need to continue aspects of the programme beyond the original timeline of end of March. Occasional Wi-Fi issues have also impacted a couple of clients.

 

  1. Summary

This month has seen 12 clients invited for interview with 5 clients being offered work, two in the adult social care sector. The employment advisers have worked with 157 clients in total since November 2023.

It is pleasing to see the work with high skills clients expanding as the EA is working with a wider range of career ambitions and potential routes into medical work.

Good progress has been made with building links to Hong Kong communities. Trust is gradually being established and the numbers of BN(O) clients are expected to rise.

 

Please direct any questions about this report to: Gill Searl at [email protected] or 07790 973101

  1. Employment advisers’ activities delivered.

The employment advisers continued their work in March with a focus on adult social care (ASC) (see below). This was the last month for such a focus. Their activities included liaising with clients to create or improve their CVs and match them to job opportunities using Indeed, explaining how to search for jobs, understand job adverts, job descriptions, person specifications and how to write applications/apply with CV. 5 clients attended the Peterborough Jobs fair on March 8th. Also in Peterborough, 8 clients referred for the IKEA/Refugee Council work placement completed their training and attended interviews at IKEA. The employment adviser was proactive to ensure clients attended the training and their interviews. Two were successful and will start work in April. The Essex EA supported 2 clients with job interviews and guided clients to other courses and services such as free online courses, job fairs and specialised recruitment agencies. They continue to advertise EON to new and potential clients. The Hertfordshire EA attended the NHS Careers Fair in Stevenage and supported some clients during the event. They have been working intensively with clients and focusing on ASC with one of them. Contacts with Hong Kongers remain a challenge due to a lack of appreciation for the benefits that a dedicated Employment Adviser can offer.

In contrast interest from Ukrainians is strong, e.g. the Suffolk EA registered 8 new clients. They also participated in a Seetec Pluss (Restart Scheme) event in Bury St Edmunds on 6th of March, where they assisted several new clients. The Suffolk EA referred some clients to our colleagues in Norfolk and Essex following recent relocations and started promoting the driving theory module (see ASC section below) as well as relevant training and events to interested clients.

 

  1. Successes, achievements and milestones delivered during this reporting period.

The EAs continue to see some success in ASC. For example in Bedfordshire one client is making progress in her ASC application and is currently completing her DBS check - as she is an asylum seeker (with the right to work) the process is longer than usual. One client has been offered a job in ASC in Essex and the DBS check is pending. In addition,

IELTS and OET remain popular options as is qualification equivalence through ENIC.

In Hertfordshire the EA is continuing to build links with such referring organisations as the Refugee Council. Whilst in Suffolk there was a new enrolment for CSCS training through Bright Futures (Harlow College).

 

  1. Emerging risks identified.

Across the region interest in ASC is low. In addition, there appears to be a low take-up of the employment adviser offer from Hong Kongers and this also applies to the business advice through MENTA. Discussions are ongoing with the Hong Kong Hub to increase participation by Hong Kongers.

 

  1. Recruitment and feedback on the Adult Social Care sector

The Essex EA met with Anglia Autism to discuss clients getting into work. In general, connections with other ASC providers are improving. It is hoped that clients we have been working around the region with who will soon have a start date will still be able to apply for the £500 grant. In Peterborough the care provider who attended the job fair has offered a client work starting in April. Two other ASC providers were in contact towards the end of March.

The online, self-study module for driving theory went live at the end of March. As of 15 April 2024, there are 42 participants. All of the initial IT problems with email authentication have now been resolved and so any email address can be used to access the course. Evaluation data can be obtained on an ongoing basis from the surveys administered by SQW before and after the course.

 

  1. High skills clients.

Previous work has focused on the medical sector. The Medical Professional Group is providing expert advice on cases as and when needed. Clinical attachments are still available free, accommodation being explored to offer CA to doctors from other areas. However, the high skills clients are increasingly becoming more varied, e.g. accountants, interior designers, tech, lawyers, so research on these areas is ongoing.

We are working with Adult Social Services – Norfolk Council to allocate Return to Social Work Programme/Assistant Practitioner roles. We may have up to 8 clients interested in this, some keen to relocate to Norfolk if successful. Accommodation is currently offered to international social workers and may be explored for our clients.

We continue to explore alternative routes for doctors/medically trained clients. For example with the College of Paramedics with the potential for apprenticeships ring-fenced for EON clients.

The Stevenage NHS Recruitment fair was a successful event with in person attendance from SLC (IELTS and PET provider), Dr Stephen Nickless and Dr Elizabeth Rosser from Breaking Barriers to engage with high skills medical clients. There are over 30 new clients from this event that are in the process of being contacted for a range of sectors and EON registration if appropriate.

Refugee Action have offered 12 weeks of mentoring for High Skilled people supported by EON and asylum seekers within hotels; laptops and SIM cards may be provided.

Overseas nurses that have to complete the OSCE nursing competence test are struggling to pay the high costs; further meetings/research on developing a cost-effective programme that can be linked with the International Recruitment Teams (Herts) are ongoing.

A small pilot programme for mentoring has been launched and will be developed into a mentoring hub if the need is there.

 

  1. Entrepreneurialism

MENTA is now working actively with 21 clients with 3 more referrals yet to be processed, making a total of 24 clients against a target of 30. In March, MENTA ran 3 training sessions covering the topics of ‘Marketing’, ‘Make Me a Better Seller’ and ‘Bookkeeping’. 4 clients have had at least one further follow-up 1-1 in March and all clients have their next 1 to 1 booked in for a further appointment over April and May to discuss progress, receive further formal 1 to 1 coaching and explore questions they may then have. 1 client has completed their final 1 to 1 session in March. The remaining 3 clients will start work with MENTA in the new financial year.

In total, 13 clients have now completed online Clarity4D questionnaires and received the resulting profile to aid with understanding and developing their business communication skills with 3 due to be completed by end of April.

All have been provided with the comprehensive support book ‘Planning and Running Your Business’ to support their journey.

Very positive feedback continues to be received from clients and MENTA is planning a formal evaluation with those nearing completion of their learning journeys and will provide a report once their evaluations have been received (May).

Although clients are very interested and active, for some their other commitments continue to have an impact on availability and attendance. Menta continue to accommodate this issue with appropriate training/coaching on a 1-1 basis to ensure they receive training needed, but this would not be possible on a large scale. This does not necessarily threaten the delivery of the programme but may impact the amount of support individual clients can fit in with their lives meaning they will need to continue aspects of the programme beyond the original timeline for them of end of March. Occasional Wi-Fi issues have also impacted a couple of clients.

Menta have proactively shared their e-flyer with a couple of contacts who Menta know are looking after overseas refugees and also promote to any other MENTA clients. Menta have recently referred 3 possible clients to EAs for them to meet with and potentially register should they confirm eligibility.

Menta created a promotional video which will be used in ESOL lessons and other opportunities.

 

  1. Summary

EON 2023 (November 23 – March 24) has been a success with the employment advisers working with 176 clients. This is especially pleasing since the range of services on offer was limited in comparison to the predecessor project, WW4RI.

Funding has been secured mainly from local authorities which will allow EON to continue up to March 2025. The focus will switch away from adult social care and to asylum seekers who arrived before March 2023. The employment advisers will continue to a work with a wide range of eligible clients.

Please direct any questions about this report to: Gill Searl at [email protected] or 07790 973101

Additional information on EON April 2024 to March 2025

3 April 2024

New funding is in place now for the 2024/2025 financial year

3 April 2024

New funding is in place now for the 2024/2025 financial year

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