Job seekers given a fresh start


Starting Point is a unique information, advice and guidance centre in Merseyside, managed by St Helens Chamber. Since 2011, Starting Point has been delivering the ASDAN Employability‚Äč qualification as part of its range of services to support clients into jobs, education and training. The qualification is offered on a roll-on, roll-off basis, with lots of different attendance options to suit all needs.

Participants are aged 19 or over and are unemployed and looking to start work. All learners are in receipt of an employment-related benefit such as Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment Support Allowance. The majority are long-term unemployed with a wide range of different support needs, ranging from lack of confidence to housing, health problems or substance misuse.

St Helens Chamber - Starting Point

Referrals for the courses come from a variety of sources including Jobcentre Plus, word of mouth and local partners. Clients work with an adviser to make sure that the level and content of the course is appropriate to what they want to achieve. Learners usually attend sessions over eight weeks and spend time in facilitated workshops and work clubs where they have support from qualified IAG workers.

More than 200 of the Chamber’s clients have achieved Employability certification since the course began.

Employment Programmes Manager Joanna Smith said: “We chose to deliver the ASDAN Employability Award to our clients as it provides a strong balance of job search and applicant preparation skills, alongside the opportunity to demonstrate transferrable skills (such as teamwork and maintaining work standards) to prospective employers. We particularly value the portfolio element of ASDAN qualifications as it allows us to empower clients to demonstrate their own skills while they are moving forwards.

“For many learners, seeking employment can at times feel lonely and frustrating and learners therefore also gain a great deal from peer support. Attendance can also bring additional softer skills such as increased confidence, motivation and knowledge.

“Ultimately the main aim for our clients is to move into a job and we are currently completing tracking exercises to monitor the number of learners who have been successful in this aim.”

James started attending the course in October after being unemployed for two years. He had struggled applying for jobs and interviews and was disappointed not to have secured work. It was felt that ASDAN Employability would help him to understand more about the application process and what employers are looking for.

James attended sessions and workshops at Starting Point, including ones on creating/updating a CV and cover letters. During each workshop, time was spent finding vacancies and making applications, and James started to get responses to his applications and invitations to interview. This included an interview as a production supervisor at a local company and, following three interviews, he was eventually offered the job.

James said: “Without the support given by the advisers, I would not have been able to secure my current position. The course helped motivate and encourage me and gave me the confidence that I could find work.”