Many economically inactive and unemployed individuals are not
actively engaged with employability services. This may be because
they are not interested in working, have had poor experiences of
employability services in the past, or are unaware of the range of
To overcome this lack of engagement, a number of mechanisms
exist to reach out to individuals and engage them in employability
services. These include:
- Pro-active marketing. Employability
organisations use a variety of media to raise awareness of their
services and attract individuals to use their services. These
include newspaper adverts and features, radio advertising, leaflet
drops, open days, and presence at local events.
- Effective location of services. To increase
awareness of employability services, it helps to be visible and
easily accessible. This means locating services where the public
will notice the organisation. Locating on a high street or in a
busy shopping centre have proved effective means of getting people
to walk off the street.
- Community outreach workers. Some employability
organisations use community outreach workers to get the message out
about the range of services available locally and encourage people
to attend these. This involves the workers knocking on people's
doors, attending local groups and events, and becoming known and
trusted in the local area. To be effective, the outreach worker
must have excellent communication skills, the ability to build
trust with people, good local knowledge, and be persistent.
- Partnership working with community
organisations. Rather than reaching out directly to the
individual, employability services can increase awareness of their
services among other local services and organisations. These might
include GPs, social work, schools, community learning, housing
associations, childcare groups, sports and hobby associations. By
working in partnership with these organisations, individuals can be
supported and referred to employability services. Key to this is
working closely with frontline staff of other services who are in
direct contact with potential clients.
- Co-location of services. By having different
services in the same premises, partnership working and referrals
typically increase because the potential obstacles of making a
phone call or making the journey to another organisation are
removed as they are located in the same place.
The effectiveness of an outreach approach requires identifying
who the target client group - and then developing an approach that
is more likely to appeal to their needs. Two possible ways of
targeting the client group is to take an area-based
approach or a client group-based
approach. However, in practice there is often significant
overlap between area-based approaches and client group approaches
for the simple reason that client groups are often geographically
Some of the most successful outreach approaches have had a
local, area-based focus. The advantages of this are:
- The problem becomes manageable in scale and this can be
strongly motivating to agencies and their staff.
- The approach is locally committed and seen as being part of and
'for' the locality. This can be reflected in a locally relevant
- Staff can build strong working relationships with the frontline
staff of other local organisations.
- The service can be tailored to the local profile of
unemployed/inactive people and to the needs of local
- The service is highly accessible to most local residents
- It maximises word of mouth referrals.
- Successes are easily linked to the local service and help to
'spread the word'.
Client Group-Based Approaches
There are a number of employability projects that are aimed at
specific client groups - e.g. lone parents, ethnic minorities,
young people who are not in employmnet, education or training - and
it is important that outreach approaches are designed to appeal to
the specific needs and interests. Good practice dictates the need
- Be clear about who the target group is and understand its scale
and distribution. In other words, how many potential clients are
they and where are they?
- Work with members/leaders within this group to design a service
which is accessible and relevant to their needs.
- Understand the skills, experience, support and training needs
of the group as well as the social and community norms by which
- Work closely with organisations and services that the client
group attend and build strong working relationships with frontline
staff in these organisations.
- Potentially train members of the client group to engage with
other individuals. They will more likely to be sensitive to client
needs, committed to supporting clients and trusted by the
- Ensure that the support for each individual is designed to meet
their agreed needs and objectives.