Innovate

Introduction

A major piece of learning from the pandemic and lockdown was the collective need for Routes To Work and our clients to better interact through technology in order to maintain our normal services and operational delivery.

Fortunately, internally we had a very much underused resource called MS Teams which, as a team, we all had to embrace through a little internal training support to maintain operations when working from home. For our clients, however, many were struggling with technology access and the ability to use the available technology to engage on courses.

When the Skills Team initiated online training for CSCS card, a large proportion of clients were having to beg, steal or borrow technology and quickly learn how to use it, in order to achieve their course activity and progress to obtaining their card.

Other client contact activity was being conducted via smart phone but didn’t always prove suitable for accredited courses where screen facing activity was of a longer duration. Every effort was made by the Skills Team – on the back of referrals to courses and through liaising with Case Work colleagues – to ensure that any client referred received coaching and technical support to connect to a course through their devices such as laptops, tablets, and PCs.

Across the team, we all had to learn quickly enough to pass on our new IT skills to our clients. There was a lot of fear, a lack of technical ability and more concerningly, a lack of hardware for them to access.

Routes To Work engaged with Connect Scotland to obtain devices, run online Basic IT skills courses to bring new skills and confidence to our clients to use online activity for personal development, and to ensure that Routes To Work had a suite of activity via the online route to ensure our clients could still be supported for personal development into a positive destination.

Fortunately, the team recognised the value of technology early in the pandemic, despite this new way of working initially proving challenging for many. However, we can proudly demonstrate how Routes To Work took an innovative route around technology and virtual contact, to continue to provide the best of service to our clients.

KTP Approval

In conjunction with the University of the West of Scotland, Routes To Work was awarded funding through the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) for a management Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project which will run for a 30-month period.

The first Management KTP ever awarded in the UK to a not-for-profit organisation in its 45 years, the funding will help the company to effectively measure its social value and use this to showcase and share evidenced good practice in service delivery, as a way of developing the company’s profile and reputation outwith our traditional delivery area of North Lanarkshire.

Digital self-help for clients

At Routes To Work, we’re aware of the speed of digital development today, and how leads to challenges among some of our clients in how to use the technology.

That’s why our team member, Leah Devine, suggested we use Learn My Way to support clients with a specially-designed digital package. Leah had experience using Learn My Way and recommended this tool to encourage and support clients through self-learning.

Now we’re signed up to the online network, we have access to useful guides, training and funding opportunities, in addition to a monitoring tool to review our clients’ progress.

Leah has since trained up as a digital champion and devised a plan on how to deliver this to clients who need the digital skills to progress into employment. The training schedule includes a group or 1-1 induction, with weekly support sessions and clients have been supported to work through modules including; using your computer or device, online basics, office programmes, internet skills, online safety, finding a job online, improving your health online, managing your money online and public services online.

Routes To Work has supported 12 clients through the modules and we have also been able to offer support to an additional 18 clients who were awarded a device and WIFI through funding from Connecting Scotland.

One client, who had previously relied on her teenage son to use digital technology and access the internet, successfully completed the nine-module Learn My Way course while also following an “get into Admin’ course. As a result, she has built up more knowledge on the use of Microsoft Office programs and is considering employment within Administration.

Another client received a tablet and mobile router, which was just the equipment she needed to help her into a North Lanarkshire catering department role. But when she started the job she was quite worried as the last time that she worked she received her pay slips in paper form; in this job, payslips and booking holidays were all carried out online.

This was causing the client a level of stress – but with support from the team utilising Learn My Way modules she successfully logged onto the site to do what’s now required.

In her personal life, too, her new-found digital capabilities have brought much joy. She was, for instance, able to videocall her son & daughter in law after an engagement and see the beautiful ring. She now wishes she had this access and technical abilities sooner!

Leah has since trained up as a digital champion and devised a plan on how to deliver this to clients who need the digital skills to progress into employment.

North Lanarkshire Opening Doors Project

North Lanarkshire’s Opening Doors project developed from a Routes To Work consultation with clients during COVID-19 lockdown.

These young people – aged 16-24 years and furthest from the labour market – were identified as struggling with their mental health and wellbeing, and an NHS Health Improvement Team was invited to develop a supportive programme alongside Routes to Work, with referrals from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

The Aim:

1. Develop an interactive mental health & wellbeing online programme with partners.

2. Deliver 2 online sessions per week for ten weeks to a maximum of eight young people covering physical activity, mental health, nutrition, smoking, alcohol & drugs, and incorporating topics suggested by the young people.

3. Improve softer & employability skills to develop the young people through the employability pipeline by offering group and 1:1 sessions covering:

  • Self Confidence and Self Esteem
  • Managing Stress and Anxiety
  • Managing Your Money
  • CV Building and Recognising Your Transferable skills.
  • Interview Skills.
  • Workplace Ethics and What to Expect when you Start Work

4. Promote the course as a stepping stone to other training & learning opportunities, such as Health Issues in the Community & walking leader qualification and REHIS Food & Health.

5. Develop Impact Measures for support, confidence, learning & behaviour change.

The Results

This was run as a pilot from October to December 2020 and the positive outcomes were remarkable.

  • 100% of clients engaged on a 1:1 basis
  • 62%of clients engaged in 1:1’s and groups
  • 100% of clients moved into a positive destination
  • 60% of clients moved into employment of which 100% sustained 13 weeks.
  • 80% Completed accredited qualifications including the Out There Award, World Host Qualification and Fork Lift Licence
  • 40% of clients have moved onto further education courses within college.

Partners involved

  • Routes To Work
  • NHS Health Improvement Team
  • DWP

Sustainability

This was run as a pilot which will be rolled out for further sessions across Routes To Work’s Young Person’s Guarantee Programme. The intention is to work alongside NHS Health Improvement Team to upskill our staff, transfer the knowledge so that his becomes sustainable internally within RTW.  This will be achieved through shadowing and co-facilitating health improvement, & employability staff who will become confident enough to deliver the mental health & wellbeing sessions. Evaluation results & young people & trainer feedback will ensure the success of future courses.

Please see our brochure for full information 

Opening Doors

A major piece of learning from the pandemic and lockdown was the collective need for Routes To Work and our clients to better interact through technology in order to maintain our normal services and operational delivery.

Employability – the digital way

When you’re so uncomfortable with using computer technology that you rely on your children for support, you know it’s time to get the skills for yourself.

One of our clients came to Routes To Work with little or no experience of digital technology – so we referred her to the Learn My Way course, where she surprised herself by sailing through all nine modules.

Such was her success that her case worker recommended her for a follow-up Get into Admin Routeway course. This proved both highly enjoyable and educational for her, giving her the confidence on packages such as the Microsoft Office suite, and motivating her to consider employment within administration.

Connecting Scotland’s activity

With the increased reliance on digital communication throughout the pandemic, Routes To Work recognised the digital poverty challenges faced by many in an ever-changing world and applied for funding through Connecting Scotland.

The funding provided a fantastic opportunity for us to support our clients with access to devices and internet. In the first phase we applied for 20 devices to support parents, care-experienced and vulnerable clients identified from our caseloads. We were delighted our application was successful and when we received the devices.

As we were home working, staff volunteers arranged to distribute the devices to our client doors, meeting them face to face, and see how they were thrilled with the packages. Clients were provided with an iPad, Mi-fi box and offered up to six months’ training to increase digital skills.

By providing clients with digital access, this opened them up to the world of technology, allowing our clients to access training online, increase social media interaction and look for job opportunities. We have also applied for a further 20 devices to support more clients!

Connecting Scotland for our clients’

Routes To Work was able to help one of our clients with some fears of technology, by supplying her with an iPad and Mi-fi box to get familiar with new digital ways of working. Such was her success in skilling up, that she is now working in her “perfect job” in the catering department of a North Lanarkshire School and nursery.

She confessed, however, to being nervous of digital technology, having only received paper wage slips in the past – but this renewed connectivity has changed her working life for the better. Luckily, her work colleagues have also eased her concerns by supporting her to use the iPad to manage all her employee admin.

And digital technology has changed her family life for the better, too. When her son proposed to his fiancée, she was able to FaceTime the happy couple and get a glimpse of the ring!

Upskilling for an online world

In July 2020, the skills team at Routes To Work collaborated to create a training offer for online delivery, by revising all of their training materials and adapting them to be suitable for online delivery to our clients.

The team worked as a team to master Microsoft Teams and the necessary functions needed to professionally deliver training online. Out of this, they have created user guides for joining teams and distributed these to clients and colleagues.

The team has also created new processes to adapt our training to online, embracing a number of innovations in their approach, and tackling any challenges along the way. The training offer includes all stages of the employability pipeline, and the team has continued to add new courses to improve service to our clients our clients, based on feedback received so far.

Other colleagues in the business have also been supported in the use of Microsoft Teams. The team has been instrumental in supporting to getting clients online, and has been persistent in promoting our service, as well as the benefits of up-skilling clients.

In addition to providing this online service to our clients, Routes To Work has also supported our colleagues by providing motivational and wellbeing workshops, and Skills Week introduction to courses, as well as a SQA qualification for mental health & wellbeing.

Feedback

To collate client feedback, the team used an online survey which has revealed consistently high levels of client satisfaction. In the recent report:

  • 100% of clients found the course enjoyable
  • 100% of clients would recommend the course
  • 100% of clients said the trainer was knowledgeable
  • 99% of clients found the course helped in their journey to employment

The team has been instrumental in supporting to getting clients online, and has been persistent in promoting our service, as well as the benefits of up-skilling clients.