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Stoke Libraries Case Study

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The background

The Stoke-on-Trent Library Service works closely with many partners, including the Job Centre to provide pre-employment support.

The service delivers 16 free work clubs to help individuals plan their journey back into employment and can offer CV creation and one-to-one support sessions for people who need a little extra help in finding employment or new training opportunities.

The challenge

As part of Stoke-on- Trent City Council, the Library Service is well-aware of the need to make efficient use of its finite resources.

Lynne Evans, ICT tutor for Stoke- on-Trent Libraries explained that one of its key aims was to help the long term unemployed to gain basic essential skills to get them back into work.

“We provide an introduction to email and using the internet to help job seekers to find and apply for vacancies online,” explained Lynne.

The solution

Virtual College’s online learning courses are used as part of the blended solution provided by Stoke–on–Trent Libraries.

Initially, learners come into the library to get individual support from the ICT Team. They can continue to do their learning online at a time and pace that suits them.

The Library Service has a bank of computer resources that learners can use if they do not have home access to the internet. It also has laptops which can be used for community-based events.

The Library Service works with many diverse groups to provide essential online services.

“These online resources are ideal for anyone who wishes to go online who need to be able to improve their current skill sets,” said Lynne.

“The IOSHH course is particularly popular as many learners want jobs in construction and so need the passport that this course leads to.”

The results

For many of the job seekers, a lack of self-confidence and previous negative experiences of classroom learning peer pressure make online learning particularly appropriate.

“The online learning is interactive, engaging and appropriate for all ages,” said Lynne. “It helps boost their confidence. “

“From a resources viewpoint alone, online learning has brought major benefits by allowing us to provide training to lots more people and focus on personalised individual learning support .”

“The learning management system makes it easy to set up learners and administer and report on their progress. We also get great support from Virtual College’s team if we have any issues.”

What next?

The Library Service is looking at adding Virtual College’s suite of employability courses to its learner offer and has interest in online learning from food banks’ volunteers.

Lynne concluded: “Online learning is a good fit for all of our learners and works well as part of a blended solution.”.

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