Mark Bowman, Chief Executive of Inspira on the challenges and opportunities for Inspira post-Brexit.

Despite Brexit and the current political uncertainty which is facing the country – Inspira is facing an extremely exciting time. The number of people we are able to help reach their potential in work, life and society continues to grow, with programmes now spanning multiple generations - from very young people through to adults of all ages. 

Brexit has raised a number of challenges, one being to ensure our workforce is equipped with the skills, knowledge and fortitude to ensure our economy continues to flourish once we are out of the EU. The recent investment announcement by the Northern Powerhouse Minister, Jake Berry, for Carlisle airport illustrates that there is a strong focus on building up business and infrastructure in these northern counties, and the programmes Inspira specialises in can help to create an effective workforce. 

This summer we will see our biggest ever summer programme take place. Around 3,500 young people across Cumbria and Lancashire are taking part in the National Citizen Service (NCS) – a four-week personal development adventure designed to inspire, and build confidence, resilience, leadership and teamwork in young people – key employability skills. 

Managed by Inspira in Cumbria and Lancashire and delivered by a number of partners, NCS was launched as a pilot in 2011 with just 300 young people taking part across the two counties. Working closely with the NCS Trust, the hard work and dedication of our delivery teams and partners, has seen the programme grow over the years.

To keep up with the size of the programme in Cumbria we take on over 100 summer staff while across our network summer staff are employed by all the local delivery partners. Many of these staff members are NCS Graduates – and we are delighted to be able to give them the opportunity to gain valuable paid work experience. 

Employers and local community organisations play an important role within the NCS programme in terms of the support and help they give. This ranges from participating in Dragons’ Den like scenarios, offering support when young people plan and deliver their social action, and providing work experience opportunities for them when they become NCS Graduates. 

Employers are also playing an important role in our relatively new project for adults – The Key. The programme works with anyone aged 19 plus who is unemployed or economically inactive to get them back into work or education. We have employers on-board across Cumbria and Lancashire who help us with work experience and mock interview training, and in turn we help them with their recruitment. In one example, a partner was downsizing so we were able to help those being made redundant find work with one of our other partner companies. In another example we helped a partner business recruit for a large number of roles. Potential candidates were assessed, then helped to upskill so that they were ready for an interview with the prospective employer. 

We are really starting to see the impact of employers being involved with programmes aimed at unemployed and economically inactive people. 

Any company who would like to know more or wants to get involved with us at Inspira please get in touch. For more information go to www.inspira.org.uk/what-we-do