Training and volunteering to ‘get Britain working again’

Over the course of the last week, the government has unveiled new plans to offer training and volunteering opportunities to unemployed people in a bid to boost their chances of finding work. This is welcome news to Recycling Lives, given that we have long since advocated volunteering and work experience placements as a means of improving employability.

Iain Duncan Smith, the government’s Work and Pensions Secretary, announced that advisers from youth charity The Prince’s Trust and other local government voluntary organisations will now be situated in Jobcentre Plus offices and will be helping jobseekers of all ages find a volunteering or training place.

Ministers said the initiative will particularly benefit young people, adding that the Government was keen to strengthen partnerships with the voluntary sector to help disadvantaged groups and communities.

Mr Duncan Smith said: “I am delighted that this partnership with local voluntary sector organisations across the country will mean thousands of volunteering opportunities for jobseekers – for some it will be a chance to get some valuable experience and gain skills after years without work.

“I have long been a vocal advocate of empowering grass roots organisations, as I believe they have the dedication, experience and specialist knowledge to get Britain working again.”

Martina Milburn, chief executive of The Prince’s Trust, said: “With youth unemployment at a record high, it is now more important than ever to help young people into jobs. This partnership will help us reach thousands more disadvantaged young people, giving them the skills and confidence to break out of long-term unemployment and poverty.

“Transforming these young lives will have a huge impact on their families, communities as well as on Britain’s economy.”

At Recycling Lives, we offer accommodation, volunteering opportunities, work experience placements and – where possible – full-time employment to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. In addition, we have strong links to the Future Jobs Fund (FJF) and local probation services, and offer numerous work experience placements to young and disadvantaged people with the aim of helping them to escape a life of benefits dependency.

We reported recently on how the skills gap in the green and renewable energy sectors could be addressed by offering training and work experience to some of the 951,000 young unemployed people in the UK today.

Our hope is that, by continuing to work with volunteer schemes and marginalised individuals, we will be able to do our part to tackle worklessness. The new government initiative serves only to strengthen our conviction that our practical approach to the cycle of unemployment and homelessness – allowing people to work their way back to independent living – is the right route to take.