Employer-led programme for unemployed Cumbrians hailed as a success

The final evaluation of Inspira’s initial The Key programme, designed to get unemployed people back in to work, has been positively praised for the dramatic improvements in confidence, self-esteem and hope/sense of direction for participants, and genuinely caring staff.

The conclusions, written by an independent consultant, goes on to applaud the wide range of employers who were engaged and how the programme offered a direct benefit to them through reduced recruitment costs as they were able to access a work-ready pool of candidates who were carefully matched to opportunities.

The Key was commissioned by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) and Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), utilising EU Social Investment Funding (ESIF). The pre-programme supported unemployed and economically inactive adults to progress into learning or work. That initial programme delivered by Inspira ran from February 2017 to March 2019, and was based on the model of an employer-led work academy, designed around identified job opportunities, equipping learners with the vocationally related skills, attitudes and behaviours needed by local employers.

As a result of the success of the programme, a similar programme began in April this year.

“A lot of hard work went into the preparation, planning and delivery of this unique programme. The feedback we have received through the report from participants, employers and stakeholders, is fantastic and we are very pleased to be able to continue delivering this life-changing programme for the next two years.”

- Mark Bowman, Chief Executive of Inspira.

Delivered throughout Cumbria and concentrating on areas with the greatest need such as Allerdale, Barrow-in-Furness, Carlisle and Copeland – the programme focuses on sectors with high recruitment needs driven by growth plans and/or anticipated replacement demand.

“Going forward, we will continue to build upon the successes of the initial programme, such as reaching out to more employers and ensuring we are focusing on more priority groups such as women returners and lone parents.

On a personal note, I am particularly proud of our staff. The participants interviewed during the evaluation considered them the most important factor in the success of The Key, saying staff genuinely cared about them and worked to help them with what they wanted to achieve rather than providing a one-size-fits-all programme. This is such a positive endorsement and one which we strive to achieve every day.”

- Mark Bowman, Chief Executive of Inspira.

The report also commented on the non-threatening environment The Key provided which was mirrored by the ethos of subcontractors used, which reinforced the positive impacts for participants on their personal development journey.