Unite to Fight Unemployment, Urges Skills Academy

Tricia Smith

A leading Sheffield skills academy is calling on businesses for support as it prepares to help thousands of South Yorkshire workers likely to be made jobless in the New Year by the pandemic.

“The miracle has happened; vaccines are now rolling out and we can start to look to a brighter future. There is no immunisation to prevent economic fallout in 2021, but there are ways employers can fight unemployment,” said Tricia Smith, CEO of The Source Skills Academy, a registered charity.

“We want to work with them to prevent redundancies and create chances for people already jobless.”

Giving staff new skills and qualifications makes them more versatile so they can take on additional tasks, says The Source, which since March via has online-tutored over 4,000 workers, jobseekers and apprentices stuck at home.

“In many cases, we can access funds which make this training cost-free. And we urge businesses to see the value of setting on apprentices at this time,” said Tricia Smith.

“They give people an important step to a career and bring new blood to businesses. Their training is paid for and their jobs come with up to £3,000 in government grants which do not have to be paid back.”

Since the March lockdown, the academy got more than 100 people, mainly young education-leavers, into new careers via apprenticeships with local companies.

It recently became a Gateway Provider for the government’s Kickstart programme, which creates and funds six-month work placements for jobless 16-24-year-olds.

“Kickstart is a lifeline to young people caught up in this crisis, but it will also be a boon to companies, providing them with keen work experience people, ” said Tricia Smith. “We get applicants interview-ready, give on-the-job education and qualifications in the job and will be encouraging employers to convert Kickstarters into full-time apprentices.”

The organisation, which launched in 2002 on Meadowhall Way, has come to the aid of the region’s unemployed during several economic downturns. It says there is also good news for 2021 as numerous sectors have seen growth in the pandemic.

Business has increased in warehousing and logistics, health and social care, digital marketing and workplace health and safety. Many more businesses, us included, have weathered the storm by being flexible and finding digital alternatives during the crisis, says The Source.

“Whatever lies ahead, we must stay flexible, and work together to fight unemployment,” said Tricia Smith.

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