Last updated: 19.02.13

North Somerset scheme offers vocational training courses

A scheme underway in Weston, Bath is providing local people with funding towards vocational training courses in an attempt to get them back in to the workplace.

Ready4work - an initiative set up by North Somerset Council - is targeting individuals who have been out of a job for six months or longer and as well as education, it is offering those who are starting to work 16 hours or more a week a grant of £200, the Weston Mercury reports.

This is to tide participants over while they wait for their first pay cheque and means they can afford any necessary work equipment or clothing and pay for transport.

Meanwhile, the funding is focusing on specific areas of North Somerset - such as the West, East, South, Central and Clarence and Uphill wards of Weston - that are known for having high rates of unemployment compared to the rest of the district

The training will equip people with key skills for work in various sectors, from construction, driving and security work to teaching, retail and catering, while it is aiming to find jobs for those claiming health-related benefits - including incapacity benefit and employment support allowance - and single parents.

Since 2007, Ready4work has helped more than 500 local residents back into work and enrolled nearly 300 on training courses and local businesses that need to expand their workforce are surely benefiting from this.

As firms are taking on employees that already have a strong skillset in place, they are less likely to find they are spending the company budget on boosting the qualifications of their workers themselves.

However, HR Zone recently reported that a rising number of small and medium-sized enterprises are recognising the positives of offering vocational training opportunities and apprenticeships to their staff.

A survey carried out by the site found the majority - 86 per cent - of businesses questioned believe employees with vocational qualifications improve productivity and three-quarters said rolling out the training to workers improves retention.