Employability Solutions

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Employability Solutions is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.


Highlighting best practice
Founder and Chief Executive
Claire Cook
Understanding the
community’s needs
Employability Solutions, a Liverpool-based social enterprise,
believe that society is too quick to give up on its most
vulnerable. Since their registration as an independent
school in 2012, they have empowered over 1,000 young people
to realise their potential through alternative education provision,
and have widened their presence via delivery centres across
northern England. Despite starting in difficult situations, over
94 per cent of their students go on to positive destinations,
including employment, apprenticeships and even university.
The young people they help face many complex barriers to
mainstream life and are too frequently denied opportunities.
Founder and Chief Executive Claire Cook tells
The Parliamentary
that her goal is to be a stepping stone by providing
accredited training, personal guidance, support and access to a
wider curriculum of enrichment activities.
Too many are left behind
At present, too many young people (that is, people aged 11 to 29 years old) are left
behind in society – a fact that I became acquainted with earlier in my career as a jobs
and training adviser. Not only do many young people face exclusion from the world
of work, but they also face a more general societal exclusion as a result. Schools
around the UK are, unfortunately, too willing – sometimes too keen – to overlook
or exclude these students. Seeing this, I and my company, EmployabilitySolutions,
»Founder and Chief Executive:
Claire Cook
»Established in 2012
»Based in Liverpool and West
»Services: Education, training,
employability and support
»No. of employees: 15
»Ofsted: “Good”
»Social enterprise reinvesting
100 per cent of its profits
»Plays important role in tackling
problems like poverty, hunger
and access to education
decided to provide a full-time alternative
education for this marginalised group of
people, with a view to promoting social
inclusion for unemployed people.
We operate under the view that
people of this age are too often
underappreciated and too easily
written off. This is because many fail
to appreciate the additional complex
barriers that such people can face,
as well as the neurodevelopmental,
social and emotional issues that might
underlie these barriers. Our ultimate
goal is to move this demographic
into more employable positions in
mainstream society.
Putting ideas into practice
We are an independent school
registered with the Department
for Education, and our courses
serve as genuine stepping stones
for improvement. We’re careful,
however, to avoid providing blanket
solutions that try to make one size
fit all. Instead, all of our education
programmes are developed on an
individual basis to match the needs of
each and every student we cater for.
To help us in this goal, we marshal
the assistance and guidance of local
entrepreneurs and businesses – in both
Liverpool and West Yorkshire.
The fact that we’re a social enterprise
means that our incentives are
focused less on profit than they are
on improving the community. As
an organisation, we are sincerely
passionate about adding cohesion
and safety to the places in which we
work. You can have all the relevant
degrees and training, but only by
caring can you get these young people
to where they need to be. Culturally
speaking, our organisation work
together as though we are a family,
although it’s worth emphasising that
this does not come at the expense of
professionalism. Combining the two is
integral to our success, as one has to
perform this service on a personal level
– figuring out the root causes of young
people’s situations, and working out a
corresponding solution that will work
in the long term.
Changing perceptions,
bettering lives
Like all organisations, we are not
without our challenges. For example,
the national perception of the sector
is currently less than ideal. This is
because, as mentioned previously, we
are working with people that society
has given up on. For us, therefore,
it is deeply important that we show
people that our provision is a credible
and genuine alternative. We must also
demonstrate that we are different to,
and not less than, mainstream routes.
This challenge is not made easier
by the fact that there has been a
drastic reduction in spending on
public services in recent years. At
present, we receive funds only on
an educational basis and not on the
basis of mental health provision for
broader, wrap-around pastoral care
that young people so desperately
need. The latter falls to health
services, who have to pick up the
pieces. Nevertheless, we have to be
multi-skilled in this area, because
Working toward
everyone’s passions
Our courses
serve as
stones for
Highlighting best practice
many of the issues faced by our
young people stem from mental
Knife crime, a cause of considerable
anguish and low aspiration in young
people’s communities, is another
example of a problem that we
continually contend with. This is
something that we have to address
and yet are not fully equipped to tackle
effectively. A programme for change
in this regard is much needed, but
will only be forthcoming when funds
Funding for special educational needs
is also too difficult to obtain. At times,
it can almost feel as though it’s a
lottery. Providing people in possession
of these needs with the funding they
require can be very hard, as local
governments face a dearth of funding.
The end result of all this is that
young people are being failed when
existing budgets are stretched far too
thinly. The solution, as far as we’re
concerned, is for the government
to invest now – this investment will
ultimately save more money in the
long term, as its absence will result in
greater damage costs later on. Solving
this properly will mean that young
people can address mental health
issues earlier and better integrate
themselves into mainstreamsociety.
A bright future
A negative picture has been painted
here, but we are nevertheless
optimistic that the future will bring
with it better times for us and the
people we serve. For as long as
there are young people in need
and people who want to serve such
needs, organisations such as ours
will continue working to help young
people get to where they want to
be. Our ability to do more with less is
increasing, so there are some positive
outcomes to the scenario described
above. The beauty of being a social
enterprise is that we are community-
driven and depend to a large extent
on the good will of those with whom
we work in the community. They
provide us with their skills, expertise
and time, which then transform lives
and communities – and for this we are
enormously grateful.
The solution,
as far as we’re
concerned, is
for the
to invest now
Official opening of the
ACE Centre


This article was sponsored by Employability Solutions. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.