A group of jobseekers were in the limelight yesterday (Monday 8th of February) as the Minister for Employment, Mims Davies joined them on their journey to retrain into the care sector.

Twelve local residents successfully started their care careers last month thanks to our Sector-based Work Academy Programme (SWAP) My Care Portfolio – a four-week training course offered by the Department for Work and Pensions, Embark Learning Care Academy, Walsall College and the West Midlands Combined Authority which will see them gain valuable work experience, retrain and grow their network of contacts.

The SWAP will offer all participants an interview with Sutton Coldfield based employer Fairway Homecare, who recruit for vacancies across the West Midlands.

As they reached the half way point of the health and social care SWAP, the Minister heard why they chose this route and how they were finding their experience so far.

Grace Simpson from the West Midlands who took part in the programme in April 2016 credits the SWAP for building up her skills and confidence.

Grace, a Compliance and Candidate Liaison Manager for Fairway Homecare, said:

“The most valuable thing about SWAPs was giving me the knowledge and experience that I needed to be able to work in the care sector. It really gave me the confidence to go out there and work with vulnerable adults.

“I’d really recommend SWAPs. It’s given me the opportunity to be able to go out there and work and make a difference to people’s lives.”

The Minister’s visit came following news that the DWP has given a further boost to the help available across the UK by increasing the number of retraining places on SWAPs to 80,000 for the next financial year – building on the 40,000 already successfully delivered over the last eight months.

Minister for Employment Mims Davies MP said:

“It was fantastic to meet jobseekers in the West Midlands and hear first-hand how our SWAPs are helping them move into the care sector – and their passion to make a real difference to people’s life came across crystal clear.

“This remains a difficult time for jobseekers across the country, but there is hope as we increase the number of SWAPs to 80,000 as part of our Plan for Jobs – creating new opportunities for people with a guaranteed job interview.”

Safwan Hanash, SWAP Business Development Manager at Embark Learning, said:

“Our SWAP programme – My Care Portfolio has been developed with employers and stakeholders to meet a very real job shortage within the care sector. The beauty of the SWAP is that candidates don’t need experience. If they’d applied for jobs with other care providers, they’d have been asked about their credentials and experience, meaning they’d probably have struggled to get a response, let alone an interview. However, if they’ve cared for their children or family, they’ve already got valuable experience.

“My Care Portfolio gives local residents the opportunity to retrain and gain employment, making an impact on their lives and the people they go on to care for. The programme raises people’s self-esteem and gives them stability. That transformation is what motivates me.”

Alex O’Neill, Operations Director, at Fairway Homecare, said:

The ‘My Care Portfolio’ SWAP programme that the Embark Learning Care Academy run is incredibly important to Fairway Homecare and our desire to offer the very highest standards of care. More than half of our workforce are now self-grown via the programme and all of the learners have such unique life stories and journeys, that it makes our business all the more special for the experiences and individuality that the course generates.

“Our partnership with the Embark Learning Care Academy and Walsall College are crucial in our medium and long term strategy, to become the market leader for the very best health and social care professionals working throughout the West Midlands.”

To find out more about My Care Portfolio Programmes click here.