Supporting workers facing redundancy

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The Yorkshire Building Society (YBS) made an announcement in November 2017 regarding the proposed closure of the YBS Charlton Kings office site by the end of 2019.  The result of the announcement was that all the colleagues on site would be placed at risk of redundancy as the phased closure was actioned.

As the Learn with Aegis project worker for the YBS Charlton Kings office I was able to offer support and to show how the unionlearn project could help the affected colleagues.

Following my research to search for any funding that would be available, I contacted our support worker at unionlearn who advised me that funding was available through Gloucester College. I then contacted and met with Tracey Fox from Gloucester College to discuss what funding they had available and what criteria would have to be met to gain access to the funding.

The college had a wide range of courses that could be offered to the colleagues that would assist them with their learning journey and help them in obtaining new employment in the same industry or other industries they wish to follow.

With advice from the college it was agreed that we would start by offering courses that would build confidence such as:

  • Assertiveness at work
  • Successfully Marketing Yourself
  • Steps to Setting up a Small Business

The first courses that were delivered received excellent feedback including the quote below from a learner:

Just a quick one to say I went on the course yesterday and Tuesday and it was fantastic. Such a good spend of time and the trainer was superb. One of the very best I’ve ever had in fact. The topic was broad, but she ensured that material was directly relevant to us and very accessible. Nothing but praise!"

The courses were well attended and at times we did not have enough spaces to accommodate everyone who wanted to attend them.

The courses were well received as most of the colleagues had worked in the same environment for a number of years and had not obtained evidence of the transferable skills they had. This then prompted another conversation with Tracey to see if it would be possible to deliver Microsoft Excel courses on site at Charlton Kings.

These courses proved very popular and sought after! With over 100 Excel courses being delivered to the colleagues in YBS Charlton Kings, covering all aspects of Excel, the courses were delivered in batches over two days with classes with 10 learners in each. This was arranged following feedback to deliver further courses covering Microsoft Word and PowerPoint.

The courses have been well received by the affected employees and cover a wide range of topics that will assist the learners continue their careers.

However, before any courses could be delivered, there was an initial registration process that the ESF required before any learner can attend any course. The criteria for the funding was quite rigid and the registration process took a long time to get everyone signed up. Tracy Fox and Sally Campbell spent a few days on site registering the learners and checking the required documentation and discussing with the learners what they wanted to achieve from the Project and their aspirations going forward.

The only negative was the ESF had various restrictions for the funding which meant that some of the colleagues were not eligible for the funding and were not able to attend the courses available. The fact that not all colleagues were eligible for the funding was difficult for some of the staff to comprehend as they felt they were being penalised because of their home postcode.

The feedback from the colleagues at Charlton Kings was excellent and they were so pleased to be receiving the training we offered to them.

From a personal perspective, I found the whole project very rewarding and the relationships with Tracey and her team so professional and a pleasure to work with, including the trainer David Gardner who was very personable and who the colleagues at YBS had great respect for.

This office closed on the 31st December 2019 with the learners leaving with the transferable skills they required.

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Mary O'Brien

Mary O’Brien is a Project Worker with Learn with Aegis