Employability Solutions

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Employability Solutions's best practice article

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.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


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. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy