Once barriers are identified action planning can take place to
address barriers. Employability projects should have their own
approaches to action planning but a useful template, developed by
Bridges is available on the Employability
in Scotland website.
This action planning template incorporates:
- short and medium term goals;
- actions required;
- barriers and challenges;
- who or what can help achieve the goals;
- target date for action.
|Action planning is a key element of Reach
Community Health Project's Skills Development Path
Training Programme. Many of their clients who have been out of the
labour market for some time, need assistance to develop their
capacity to self manage their employability. This can include how
to apply for jobs, interview skills, understanding how to develop
their skills and take advantage of opportunities. This needs to be
underpinned by an action plan that raises confidence and self
belief. Following through on the action plan can be a way of
developing self confidence as it helps clients to develop control
over their life and increases motivation.
Employability Skills Development
As we've seen from earlier sections, some clients may need their
employability skills developed because they have little experience
of the labour market. Employment support programmes developed
by Bridges such as Bridges Life Skills or Equipped for the Future
help clients to develop these skills. Examples of the
worksheets and tools used in these courses are available to access
on the Employability in Scotland website. These help clients
reflect on past experience, qualifications and life events which
can be used to identify transferrable skills. Bridges also use the
reflection toolkit mentioned above for employability skills
The links to these resources are given below.
Minority ethnic groups appear to be under-represented in some
national training programmes and the national averages disguise
wide variations in ethnic minority participation between areas in
Scotland. Recent data from the Employability Fund shows that only
around 2% of trainees are from minority ethnic groups although
around 3.8% of the working age population are people from minority
Possible reasons for under-representation include the higher
proportion of minority ethnic young people entering higher or
further education - meaning fewer are eligible for training
programmes. Also, since the provision of Modern Apprenticeships is
concentrated in industries and occupations where minority ethnic
people are less likely to be employed, fewer are likely to
participate in them.
Employability services can encourage clients to enter vocational
programmes. Action can include the following.
- Addressing basic skills issues with clients.
- During advice and guidance sessions, making them aware of all
of the options on education and training available and referring
them where necessary.
- Supporting clients on education and training programmes.
- Monitoring progression on programmes and addressing any issues
Some employability services have developed their own vocational
training programmes targeted towards specific groups.
Targeting can allow more work to support the specific barriers some
groups may have. The example below shows how the programme
was adapted to ensure Roma clients were able to achieve similar
outcomes to other trainees.
|The Govanhill Backcourt Initiative in Glasgow
provides training and work experience in construction skills and
horticulture. Trainees are with the project for 13 weeks during
which they receive training, have work placements and one to one
support to address any barriers to employment they may have.
Around a third of the trainees are from the Roma community.
During the project's first phase outcomes for the Roma trainees
were poorer than for other trainees, so a number of modifications
to the programme were made to improve outcomes. These
included dedicating two workers to work more intensively with the
Roma participants as they required more support; providing more
tailored ESOL support and working in partnership with Jobs &
Business Glasgow which has a dedicated Roma employability service
so that people were better prepared for joining the
Initiative. As a result of these changes more Roma clients
are going into and sustaining employment.
Work Experience and Volunteering
Work experience and volunteering can be a good way for people to
develop employability skills when they have never been in the
labour market or out of it for some time. An example is
|The YCSA in Glasgow works with minority
ethnic young people aged 16-25. They link young people with
employers to get voluntary and work experience. Many of the
young people they work with have experienced discrimination and
this has affected their confidence about looking for work.
The placements help them to learn how to present themselves to
employers and also develop work experience. They provide
training for employers to help them better support the young people
during the work experience. The training focuses on the
benefits of taking on young people, sets out the business case for
a diverse workforce and helps employers to see that it can be good
It can be useful to explain the benefits of work placements or
voluntary positions for clients if they have never taken part in
placements before. Reach Community Health Project found some
clients were not clear about the benefits of work experience and
the project had to find ways of presenting the benefits of
placements. This information could include:
- The purpose of the placement - as a way of developing an
employability profile and gain a reference;
- expectations about the placement, from both the client's and
the employer's perspectives around what each will gain from the
- practical information such as the hours, who the client should
report to, duties and skills to be developed during the
Bridges Programmes have a guide to work placements which is
available from the Bridges website.
Active employer engagement can be a successful way of assisting
minority ethnic clients. Engagement activity involves:
- building sustainable relationships with employers;
- facilitating the creation of work placements,
- challenging negative employer perceptions of different client
Employer engagement can be assisted by making the business case
for a diverse workplace, which is now clearly established.
Businesses which have a diverse workforce are more successful for a
number of reasons:
- They are more competitive - they are more likely to have a
wider customer base, to recognise potential new markets, to develop
more tailored services and to recruit from the widest possible
- They have better industrial relations - if they tackle
discrimination they are likely to have other policies that support
the workforce and encourage better relationships in the workplace.
This means that they are likely to have better recruitment and
retention, better staff morale, reduced absence and labour
turnover. This, in turn means that they are likely to have higher
levels of productivity.
- Finally, the public image of businesses is an increasingly
important factor in securing markets and being competitive. If
businesses have a more diverse workforce then they are likely to
have a better public image.
However, employability services also need to recognise the
economic realities faced by local employers and target industries
where there are likely to be entry level jobs and demand for
labour. Think about:
- Which jobs can people fill given pre-employment support?
- Which employers are likely to provide opportunities for
advancement from entry level to a better job?
The example below shows how employer engagement has proved
to be an effective approach for one organisation working with
minority ethnic clients.
Fife have developed a network of contacts with private
sector employers and voluntary organisations to organise work
experience and volunteer placements for their clients. They also
organise networking events with businesses to raise employers
awareness of the barriers people from minority ethnic groups in the
labour market face and how they can change their practice to
increase applications from these groups. Frae Fife also offer
in work support to clients and employers to help sustain
employment. They feel this is a very important aspect of their work
and aim to more of this in the future.
Job Search Support
There is evidence of less favourable recruitment of people from
ethnic minority backgrounds. For example, one research project
found employers favoured applicants with white names compared to
Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Indian, Chinese and black Caribbean names
at the job application stage. Greater use of standard job
application forms can help to mitigate this. Employability
practitioners need to be aware of the potential for this to
Interviews can be particularly problematic as there is evidence
that people from ethnic minority groups can be disadvantaged
because of culturally-specific practices in interviews. This means
that job interviews create a linguistic penalty that arises because
candidates do not conform to interviewers' expectations of how they
should talk in interviews and many cultural assumptions are made
while cultural differences are not taken into account.
This can be a problem for people whose first language is not
English even if they are fluent. Interviewers expect people
to be able to talk about the job, the qualities they will bring to
it in much more complex ways than the job demands so that there is
a gap between the communicative demands of the interview and the
communicative requirements of the job. To be successful in an
interview it is not sufficient to speak English well, the candidate
must also be able to meet these expectations.
Employability projects need to prepare candidates for this and
help clients perform well in interview. This needs to take more
account of cultural factors - for example in some cultures, respect
is shown through expressing humility - this can be hard to
reconcile in an interview situation where the goal is to 'sell'
yourself. Interviewees will need help around:
- the format of the interview;
- what kind of answers are valued, what kind of language needs to
be used etc.
- presenting him or herself well;
- using the right kind of language expected in interviews;
- being able to pick up on the hidden assumptions of interviews
and produce the answers the interviewer is looking for, yet not
come across as too 'scripted'; and
- interacting well with the interviewer.
Successful at Selection and FAQs is a useful DVD which covers the
issues faced by ethnic minorities and which assists with
preparation of people for interviews. It has been developed by
King's College London's Department of Education and Professional
Studies. Contact Melanie
Cooke for information about the DVD which can be
In Work and After Care
People from ethnic minority groups can find it difficult to
progress in the labour market and can be trapped in low wage jobs.
There are different reasons for this including:
- unequal access to opportunities for development;
- not having enough information about training;
- prejudice and stereotyping; and
- under-recognition of skills and experience.
These factors can make it very difficult for people to progress
in the labour market because they don't have equal access to
opportunities. People in this situation are also at risk of
in-work poverty. Ethnicity can be a major disadvantage
at recruitment, promotion, training and retention stages - with
workplace culture affecting outcomes at all of these
Much work focuses on making the business case for
diversity. Much more needs to be done to tackle informal
workplace custom that contributes to unfair practice.
Employability projects may help through contacts and mediation with
employers, because the support from the employer once a client has
entered into employment is highly crucial. Support mechanisms
within the workplace, such as mentoring, will help clients to
sustain their employment, as well as support their progression.
For clients who need language support continued access to ESOL
may help sustain employment. For some practice examples of
workplace based learning see the ESOL
Scotland website and also these specific case studies: