Redundant professionals helped back on track

Issue date: 23 June 2009

University of the West of England Recently redundant professionals have spoken highly of a joint initiative by the University of the West of England and Jobcentre Plus in Bristol to help people during the recession. Funded by Jobcentre Plus and delivered by UWE's Career Development Unit, the first workshop was held at the University earlier this month.

There are an estimated 2,000 plus professionals who have been made redundant from executive positions in the Bristol region as a result of the current economic downturn.

Local universities, under the coordination of the Association of Higher Education Institutions in the South West (HERDA) network, are working together to provide support to people, particularly those who have not faced redundancy before.

The first in a series of workshop held at UWE has had excellent feedback from people who took part. The workshops helped people to review their position, improve job search skills and interview techniques and to broaden their horizons by looking at new options for employment.

The workshops were coordinated and delivered by Linda Moysey and Ros Hitchen from the UWE Careers Development Unit. Linda said, “At UWE we are well practiced in delivering career development activities to a broad range of individuals from recent graduates to experienced professionals. We have integrated this experience into the workshops to help people to explore a range of options and hone their skills as they re-enter the job market or start their own business. This support is primarily about helping people to think laterally and get some practical help.”

Rachel Jones, Jobcentre Plus District Manager said:

“We recognise this is a difficult time for people who have lost their jobs due to the economic downturn and we are doing everything we can to help people back in to work as quickly as possible.

“And that is why I am especially pleased to announce that Jobcentre Plus has been working in partnership with universities in the West of England to develop and fund workshops aimed specifically to help professional/ executive jobseekers. Initial feedback from people who attended the first workshop is very favourable.”

Julie Hodge was made redundant after 20 years working in marketing for a Direct Mail company. The company had lots of clients in the financial sector and the banking crisis had a negative impact on the business as clients squeezed their marketing budgets.

Julie said, “I was made redundant at the end of January along with 12 others and I've heard since that my company has shut down a poly wrapping centre in Swindon. I have registered with various agencies and done a job search on the internet but it's very difficult at the moment. The workshops run by UWE have really helped with my confidence.

“It was almost a relief to see that there are a lot of other mature professional people affected by the current recession and that it's not just me. The sessions by Linda and Ros were extremely helpful; I have revamped my CV as a result. It was useful to get someone from outside my industry to give a critique and help me to improve.

“Since attending the workshops I have had a couple of promising openings, one from a previous client from the Direct Mail Company and another from one of the agencies I am registered with. This has been down to my own efforts but I did find the workshops to be really useful in terms of building my confidence and helping to see how my skills could be redirected into other areas including running my own business.”

Another participant who had run his own business said, “I found that the recession impacted on people wanting the service I offered (building awareness of the dangers of drugs and alcohol). Business had been really good for years and then suddenly as my work was not 'essential' contracts started to dry up and eventually the business stopped making any money.

“I had never been redundant before, and at 49 it's a mind numbing experience. So many of us are to a degree partially defined by our work. I was amazed at the lack of support available to people like me who are keen to work and have lots of experience to offer.

“I was shocked at how experienced, well educated and professional the people at the UWE workshop were but it did reassure me. As I'm in the training business I found it strange to be on the receiving end of a training session and recognised the various techniques being used but I think Linda and Ros did a great job, especially as this is the first course of its kind that they have run. It's a little unnerving to see the quality of the people I'll be up against in the job seeking market but as a group we gelled well and have formed a sort of support network which is important as being out of work is a very isolating experience.

“I would have liked a bit more direct one to one help and I think that it may be good to consider extending the course to five days. What it has done is help me with some of the deep thinking I need to do to address my future prospects but overall I came away feeling more positive.”

John Clarke, UWE's Deputy Director of Student Services said, “It is critical that we work at supporting people in these difficult times. Universities are very well equipped to give people the help they need. At UWE we have superb credentials when it comes to training particularly in the professional arena and we anticipate that there will be significant demand from people needing to tap in to the business expertise that we can offer up.”

The workshops are just the beginning of the support that UWE is offering to help people during the economic downturn. The recent success with securing almost £1 million from the Economic Challenge Investment Fund (ECIF) will soon materialise into a permanent employment support resource at Bush House in Bristol. This will include training and job search help, discount vouchers for ongoing education and the development of really useful on-line training options.

John Rushforth, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, said, “These are uncertain times for many people and at UWE we are committed to playing a key role in supporting our community through partnerships of this nature. The work that we are carrying out with our neighbouring universities, Jobcentre Plus and the support we will be offering through the ECIF investment is integral to our mission to provide relevant vocational education and training to people in the region.”

For further information about careers advice and Solutions4Recession at UWE, please see:

Careers Advice


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