3: Wolverhampton Homes
In consultation with its tenants Wolverhampton Homes developed LEAP (the Learning, Employment and Achievement Programme), designed to identify and overcome the specific barriers residents face when in moving into work.
During meetings with tenants the main issues raised were the inability to get a job due to lack of work experience or references, and difficulty finding work experience due to a lack of demonstrable skills. Wolverhampton Homes now uses its position as a major employer in the area to offer work experience and skills training for its tenants and their families. It has developed an in-house, eight-week unpaid work experience programme that can lead onto a 12-month apprenticeship, open to all residents aged 16 and over with at least a level 1 in Literacy and Numeracy. Basic skills training is offered to those who don’t meet this requirement through referral to local training centres. Those who successfully complete a work experience programme or an apprenticeship are given a reference and a training certificate. Work experience opportunities are also available in grounds maintenance, garage repairs, renovations, and painting and decorating through the housing association’s social enterprise, Wolverhampton Works.
Transport and childcare costs were the other key barriers identified by tenants. The housing association now ensures that all programmes are delivered with no fees to the tenants and has found this to have a significant impact on attendance.29 As such, all transport costs are covered by Wolverhampton Homes or funding from the Jobcentre, and courses are offered between the hours of 9:30am – 2:30pm, allowing parents to take part without incurring child care costs.
To date Wolverhampton Homes has delivered training to over 500 tenants, provided 140 eight-week placements, 75 apprenticeships and over 50 permanent jobs. And this year 78 per cent of all the housing association’s entry level vacancies went to LEAP participants.29