Essential skills training has potential to boost employability in County Durham

Essential skills training courses in County Durham are proving their worth in helping job seekers secure employment.

A recent report from the Learning and Work Institute shows a steep drop in basic skills education in the North East. However, housing association, Karbon Homes, is continuing to deliver vital basic skills support to help address the high levels of unemployment in the county.

Karbon’s Foundations for Life team, a free service which helps residents develop their employability and digital skills, runs a number of essential skills course from Karbon’s Skills Hub on Stanley Front Street.

Karbon resident, Craig Temperley, puts his recent success securing a full-time role with Amazon in Durham, down to the essential skills he developed with the support of the team.

After being made redundant and lacking in numeracy, literacy and digital skills, Craig turned to the service to help him increase his chances of finding employment.

Craig no formal qualifications and had never completed an application form before. He attended a light literacy and numeracy programme to assess his level of skills and Karbon put an action plan in place to help him develop the skills he needed.

Craig said: “I am really grateful to Karbon Homes for all their support in helping me to secure employment and improve my personal skills. My tutor, Sean, has been a lifeline and I don’t know what I would have been able to do if it wasn’t for the support of this service.

“After being made redundant last year, I felt really stuck. I had lost all my confidence and didn’t know what I was going to do. The essential literacy, numeracy and digital skills I have developed have been vital in me securing this role and thanks to them I now have a fantastic new job with Amazon and I’m really enjoying the role and the new skills I’m learning along the way.”

Research shows that around nine million adults across England have low literacy or numeracy, with millions more also having low digital skills.

Suzanne Jobson, Karbon Homes’ Foundation for Life Manager, said: “Essential skills are increasingly important when it comes to re-entering the job market, particularly digital skills which have become a must as a result of the pandemic.

“We have seen a huge increase in job opportunities in the region since the pandemic, with online adverts for jobs in the North East rising 65%. However, we’re finding the same problems time and time again, applicants who lack some essential skills are struggling to get past the first hurdles of applying for and securing roles. This in turn is having a big impact on employers and the economy, as roles go unfilled.

“Craig is a fantastic example of what can be achieved when we invest in developing these essential skills. Not only is he now back in work but his confidence has increased no end.”