factors contributing to their situation, providing relationships and rapport on a day- to-day basis. This holistic approach was seen in all services looked at in the study. Many disadvantaged adults will have underlying issues contributing to their situation – without addressing these issues they will not be able to change their lives and return to education or employment.
Many people simply need to talk to someone to help them achieve small goals, such as improving confidence or improving their understanding of the English language. Age Concern North Tyneside is a holistic service providing all aspects of support for older people. One specific project, Back on Board, works with the over-50s to provide guidance on work and training opportunities. One client noted the role that Age Concern played in helping her to regain her confidence: ‘My husband of 26 years had just died, he was eligible for Disability Living Allowance, but I was not. I do not know what I wanted really, just help and someone to talk to who was interested. I had no confidence at all’.
Beyond the initial holistic support, practitioners can then help clients to achieve more specific goals to improve their skills and education to help them to find jobs and become more independent and self-reliant. Volunteering plays a big part in helping clients to develop new skills and get used to a working environment. Many of the services studied offered clients the chance to volunteer within the organisation to help others. Volunteering offers disadvantaged adults the chance to realise what they can do and how they can actively contribute to society. For many disadvantaged groups the possibility to get advice and guidance from peers who have an understanding of what they are going through helps make this difficult process easier. The Foundation Training Company uses offenders who have been through the programme to act as learning support assistants. Here, they can offer peers one-to-one support and the clients can easily relate to them as they can build on shared experiences. Volunteering can also lead to some clients achieving recognised qualifications; one Age Concern volunteer has achieved an NVQ Level 2 in Advice and Guidance whilst the Personal Best Programme at Brentin2Work gives unemployed Brent residents the opportunity to gain a Level 1 qualification based on volunteering. These qualifications help develop new skills and can boost an applicant’s CV when they start to look for paid employment. Careers guidance services need to establish strong links with local employers, especially when working with disadvantaged groups that may have more specific needs
than other workers. This could simply be an understanding between the guidance service and the employers or it could be a much more formal service. At the ROSE project, because many clients will have never had a paid job role before, practitioners work very closely with employers to ensure that the clients can easily settle into their new role. Job coaches at the ROSE project work on a ‘traffic light system’. Initially, the job coach will work for a shift at the place of employment before the client starts work; they will then follow a three-stage system to help the client become comfortable in their new role. As the client starts work the job coach will be working alongside at all times to provide support, with monthly reviews. This contact time is gradually reduced until the client is working completely independently. Three-month reviews ensure that the client is still happy with everything and progressing well. With adult guidance moving towards a
more inclusive approach and the recession causing rising unemployment, careers guidance professionals will have a lot of changes to make in their practice over the next couple of years. As general services begin to cater for all groups within society, practitioners can learn from successful targeted guidance for disadvantaged groups. The four main elements to include, we found, are personalisation, encouraging progression, holistic support and vol- unteering and employment opportunities.
Tony McAleavy is Director of Education, CfBT Education Trust
From 2010 the new Adult Advancement and Careers Service (aacs) will be in place. Its aim is to deliver information, advice and guidance to help people take control of their learning, skills and careers, and overcome any barriers that might hold back their progression in these areas.
A range of agencies will work together to offer ‘joined-up’ advice covering ‘all areas of personal need’, including jobs, training, skills, child- care, living costs, health, housing, benefits, legal advice, debt manage- ment and transport. There will be one brand visible
nationally, with one phone number and one website, but with centres located throughout the country, offering a nationally consistent service. The new Skills Funding Agency will manage the service, including setting targets and requirements. From April 2010 the SFA will be the single funding provider for adult skills in England, outside of higher education.
Adults Learning is published 10 times a year (September to June) by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (England and Wales).
It is a forum for debate on all issues affecting adult learning and contributions are welcome from those in the field. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of NIACE.
The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (England and Wales) represents the interests of adult learners.
All contributions © NIACE. No reproduction in any form or by any means is allowed without the express permission of NIACE.
Volume 21, Number 3 November 2009
ISSN: 0955-2308 Designed and typeset by
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NOVEMBER 2009 ADULTS LEARNING
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