Select Committee on Education and Employment Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from Freshstart Trust Ltd

  Freshstart supports older, 40+, unemployed men and women to improve their employability.

  Since February 1999 Freshstart has been a New Deal 25+ Pilot Gateway Provider for Bristol & South Gloucestershire. This Pilot run by Employment Services has enabled organisations within the area to work effectively in Partnership. Since July 2000 we have also been contracted to receive direct referrals from 50+ New Deal Personal Advisers.

  Further to this the same Partnership has come together and from June 1999 accessed European Social Funding for the Pathways to Work project, managed by Bristol City Council, to assist all those ineligible under the conditions of the New Deal 25+ Pilot; jobseekers from day one of unemployment, lone parents, disabled people and those on incapacity benefit.

  Freshstart considers that these initiatives have helped move our clients into/towards employability. Of 70 ESF clients tracked by June 2000 it is known that 16 moved into Employment and 18 undertook bespoke Training/Placements (eight of which were test trading towards Self Employment). Some of these and many others also received assistance in addressing other barriers to employment from partner organisations.

  Our sample of over 400 clients (65 per cent New Deal 25+ Pilot, 6.5 per cent New Deal 50+, 26 per cent ESF, 2.5 per cent ineligible) from February 1999 to the present demonstrates that:

    —  Age is a barrier, real or perceived, to those entering or re-entering employment.

    —  The majority of need continuing objective support and encouragement.

    —  All must accept that the work place they aim to re-enter will be different and rapidly changing.

    —  Most will need to update skills/competences and focus on an area within which there is a demonstrable market need, to improve their chances of early re-employment and to meet the rigorous demands of modern employers.

    —  Many experience other problems such as family breakdown, social exclusion, debt, alcohol/drugs abuse, homelessness, basic skills needs and other matters of disadvantage which must be addressed before the client stands a chance of obtaining sustainable employment.

  Freshstart offers Individual Guidance & Support in conjunction with Group Workshops aimed at confidence building, re-motivation, addressing anger/fear, and establishing a positive new direction. Enabling a sustained flexible approach to employment for the future for each individual client, giving proper regard to existing skills, transferable skills and skills that need to be acquired.

  We also are contracted by WESTEC to provide "IT for the Petrified", Life Story Presentations (curriculum vitae) and ongoing individual progression plans.

  Almost all of our clients report Age Discrimination. We advise that clients do not include their date of birth on curriculum vitae, and that they remove dates that would reveal their age. Once attending for interview older people are often more successful in obtaining employment.

  We believe that anti-discrimination legislation is essential and if employers were unable to reject people from their selection procedures, on the basis of age alone, a larger proportion of older unemployed people would re-enter employment.

  I would be happy to attend an oral evidence sessions if this would be of assistance.

The Freshstart Trust Ltd

January 2001

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