Sunday, May 22, 2022

New job is best Christmas present for Work & Skills Leicestershire client

A Leicestershire resident who signed up with the county council’s Work & Skills programme has received the best Christmas present they could hope for – a new job!

The new year will see Karen Norton start work in her role as a senior youth advocate – and she says it is all thanks to the Work & Skills Leicestershire team.

Work & Skills Leicestershire is open to anyone who is seeking employment or training – from those who have never been employed, to those who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic, or who are at risk of redundancy.

Karen worked for many years as a cover teacher, but when she went to apply for teacher training in Leicestershire, she was told her American qualifications in English and Maths were not deemed equivalent to the GCSEs required.

Karen, who has a degree in History, an MA in Museum Studies and is studying for an MA in International Human Rights Law, is now also studying for her Maths GSCE, alongside being a volunteer youth worker. She is looking forward to starting her new job.

She said: “I am a well-educated person and I didn’t expect not to be able to do my teacher training. It was heartbreaking – it really knocked my confidence. I’d had a plan and it hadn’t worked out and I had no self-worth at all. It felt like I had a cultural disconnect.

“I found out about Work & Skills Leicestershire from the website – and it was brilliant! I’d been turned down for jobs, so we went through my CV and through the job specifications and the staff helped me so much – they never made me feel self-conscious. It was great to have someone to point out my skills and experience and where else they might be useful – for instance I thought I had no managerial experience, but they pointed out that I had run a youth camp and that was managerial experience.

”When I found out I had got the job, it was the best Christmas present I could have wished for. My confidence is now through the roof, my self-worth is back, I feel like myself again – and I have Work & Skills to thank for all that. I am so looking forward to the new year and to starting work in my new role.

“Work & Skills Leicestershire  is a great programme and the fact that it is free is amazing! It has had a huge impact on my life and I have been telling other people all about it. I think it is a service which could help anyone – and I would say to people ‘you have more skills than you think you have – don’t let your self-confidence be knocked’.”

Work & Skills Leicestershire has helped over 200 clients, some of whom have already found new jobs. Over half of those attending have received support with their CVs or job applications. It currently runs at Loughborough Library on Tuesdays 10am until 12 noon and on Fridays at Hinckley Library between 10am and 12 noon. There are also sessions at Wigston Library from 10am until 12 noon every Wednesday and at Coalville Library between 2pm and 4pm on Wednesdays.

A pop-up Employment Hub is to be launched at Measham Community Managed Library beginning on Thursday January 27. It will run between 10am and 12 noon for four weeks.

There is also to be an online hub on Thursday January 20 for those interested in working in the care sector. This will include talks from employers, employees and employment specialists looking at transferrable skills and routes into care work. It will also inform of current vacancies.

Everyone who signs up to Work & Skills Leicestershire is offered one to one support and  the opportunity to have a tailored work plan drawn up for them. Help is given with CV and letter writing skills, job searches, interview techniques and much more.

Councillor Peter Bedford, cabinet lead member for post-Covid recovery saidStories like Karen’s are a wonderful illustration of how Work & Skills Leicestershire is making a real difference to those seeking a change of direction in their working lives.

“We are pleased to be offering enhanced services in the New Year, especially focusing on the care sector and I would urge anyone who would like to find out more about what Work &Skills Leicestershire can offer, to drop into one of its hubs, to call 0800 988 0308, or to visit

Leicestershire’s  economy has taken a big hit during the pandemic and the county council has launched a series of initiatives to help boost it. These include:

  • Supporting and extending the Government’s Kickstart scheme by creating placements for 16-to-24-year-olds whose job prospects have been most impacted by the pandemic.
  • Extending superfast broadband to hard-to-reach rural areas.
  • Investing almost £4m in supporting community groups, hundreds of small businesses and struggling rural pubs.

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