Jobcentre bosses in Aberdeen have found unlikely inspiration for getting people into work – speed dating.
Chiefs at Aberdeen Jobcentre Plus have come up with a new initiative modelled on dating schemes where single men and women spend two minutes chatting before switching to another conversation.
They’ve now honed the system for those wishing to realise their dream career – bringing employers, trainers and educators face-to-face with job hunters at a monthly session in the city.
The speed employment event started in March with more than 20 people attending in search of work and just as many representatives of organisations there to meet them.
Since then it has gone from strength to strength, with a healthy turnout for the monthly sessions and glowing feedback from both employers and job hunters – and it is working.
According to employers, more than 15 people have applied for jobs on the day of speed employment workshops and 10 more have applied to enrol on training courses to boost their CV.
The Evening Express attended the latest event at Aberdeen Jobcentre Plus on Dee Street to speak to those taking part.
The workshop is for those aged 18 to 21 and people are often told about them by their work coach.
“Some of the people who take part may have never had a face-to-face job interview, so it’s a chance for them to gain confidence,” said Ruth McDermott, Jobcentre Plus employer engagement and partnership adviser, who organises the speed employment sessions.
She added: “It’s voluntary for people to attend and the feedback we have has been fantastic.”
Post-It notes left by those who have previously tried speed employment read: “I found everything easy to understand” and “It has made me more motivated to get a job.”
Also attending the session were representatives of the British Army, Barnardo’s Scotland, Momentum Skills and Aberdeen Foyer.
Jobseekers can spend between five and 15 minutes with each provider before taking away a business card from the person they spoke to and moving on to the next chat.
Megan Rendall, of Barnardo’s Scotland, said: “It’s very informal and relaxed. It’s not like a formal job interview so participants learn how to tackle face-to-face conversations without feeling pressure.
“I start by asking them what they want to achieve, and the response can be anything from ‘I want a job in this particular field’ to ‘I want to improve my CV’. Then we see how we can best help. We can either suggest something that can improve their employment prospects or signpost them to someone else who can.”
Barnardo’s can enrol people on to schemes such as the Barnardo’s Works Best programme, in which participants earn qualifications, gain work experience, try volunteering and add handy skills to their CV, such as first aid.
On the day, one of the participants who wants to be a mechanic applied to join the Army.
Keep up to date with the latest news with The Evening Express newsletter
Regimental support worker Phil Carradice said: “It has been really beneficial for us to attend and we feel that we’re able to tell young people about everything the Army officers do in a comfortable setting.
“For example, if someone is looking to become a mechanic, we can offer training where people are paid more than £15,500 and that rises to £20,000 after it finishes.
“Joining the Armed Forces opens up a whole world and people broaden their horizons, and they can move on to pastures new in four years and apply the skills they have learned in a related field.”
Callum Boyle was one of those who took part in the workshop.
The 20-year-old, of Kintore, said: “I am really glad I came along, it’s been really interesting to meet people from different organisations.
“I would like an apprenticeship in admin work so I can work in an office. I’m not sure what I want to do beyond that but today has given me more ideas to think about.”