Milton Keynes College and Milton Keynes Council have joined forces to support local people who have lost or may be at risk of losing their job due to COVID-19.
The New Futures:MK scheme will not only help people to find work but also allow businesses in the city to recruit staff who are looking for a new career path.
The council is sponsoring New Futures:MK, which launched this month and will run until mid-2022, with an investment of £650,000. Young people not in employment, education or training and adults who need help with their careers can sign up for a host of different services to help them into work.
“The world of recruitment has changed dramatically because of the pandemic,” says Tracey Matthews, Assistant Principal at the College for Employer & Student Experience. “We can help people stand out in video conference interviews or show them how to use social media to improve their job-hunting chances. Some sectors have been hit very hard in recent months, including hospitality and retail, and there are a lot of people looking for alternative employment. We can help them identify the transferable skills they already have which might be attractive to companies that are hiring.”
People using the scheme will all be given a careers coach, a personal mentor, who will help them along the way, and they’ll be able to sign up for short or long-term courses to retrain for the new world of work. Some will be referred to organisations offering similar support for those facing redundancy, like the Department for Work and Pensions and partners of the Council’s £2.25m Economic Recovery Plan.
Tracey says the College has built up a real understanding of the needs of employers across many sectors in the city. What they need to know now is how specific recruitment practices have changed so they can prepare candidates to perform to their best when applying for jobs.
“Companies are doing interviews via Zoom, through online assessment centres and even using automated interview bots recording applicants’ answers. We need those employers who have vacancies to let us know what they’re looking for. We can arrange for them to give talks to prospective employees about their industries or their specific companies so that people know what their options are.”
The College is also looking for mentors from local businesses to come forward to talk to potential applicants about how their recruitment processes work and to provide interview advice to help take the fear away.
“This is an opportunity to look at whole different groups of people who’ve been working in other industries and who might be able to bring all kinds of other skills and aptitudes these businesses didn’t even realise they needed,” says Tracey.
Milton Keynes Council Cabinet Member for Economy and Culture, Councillor Carole Baume said, “We’re really proud to be working with MK College to help local people develop vital new skills. The economic impact of COVID-19 is hitting our most vulnerable residents hard, and we’re determined to provide the support and opportunities they need to find work that is right for them.”