Recently, Employment Minister Alok Sharma announced that jobseekers will soon benefit from a mentoring scheme designed to tackle employment inequality across the UK.
The initiative follows a successful pilot last year, in which 500 participants from ethnic minority backgrounds attended mentoring sessions with companies such as KPMG, Fujitsu, HSBC and Network Rail. They were taught how to write a CV and set career goals, as well as being supported with job applications and provided with interview tips. Following their mentoring sessions, many participants secured work – whilst others went on to further education or training.
According to the Race Disparity Audit’s Ethnicity Facts and Figures website, unemployment among BAME communities is almost double that of their white counterparts. It’s particularly bad news for black and ethnic minorities in the north of England, where the unemployment gap between BAME and white Britons is at 13.6% - compared to a 9% disparity in the south.
And whilst it’s inequalities like this that the scheme is set out to address, Mr Sharma has announced that as of April, the initiative will be rolled out across the Jobcentre Plus network nationally and will be available for all claimants on all benefits – not just black and ethnic minority (BAME) individuals.
Every jobcentre will have access to a local toolkit to help work coaches get to know the make-up of their micro-labour market for all claimants. This will help them to decide who will benefit from an initiative of this kind.
Here at the Growth Company, mentoring has always been something which we’re passionate about in an employment capacity. Our keyworkers work tirelessly to support people facing complex barriers back into work – whether it’s helping someone with their confidence, or giving them the essential skills they need to thrive in the world of work.
Away from employment, our Business Growth Hub team are also strong advocates of mentoring. They have seen huge successes with their own mentoring programme, as well as Be the Business Mentoring for Growth pilot which we supported – which pairs SMEs across the country with an experienced business mentor to help them through expansion challenges.
Mentoring isn’t just beneficial for the jobseeker or the SME – it’s also a hugely positive thing for the mentor to be involved with. It gives businesses a chance to develop their employees’ leadership skills, boosts their reputation as a socially responsible employer and opens them up to fresh perspectives.
I am looking forward to seeing how the national roll-out in April helps to tackle employment inequality across the UK. Until then, we are committed to supporting jobseekers across the country in any way that we can to help them take the first steps back into work.