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Steps Ahead is a mentoring programme for those parents and carers seeking to return to work after a career break.
Steps Ahead is a mentoring programme for those parents and carers seeking to return to work after a career break. It also covers unemployed younger people and a scheme for over 50’s is being piloted.
The programme is run by the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development and covers England, Scotland and Wales. People are referred to the programme by Jobcentre Plus Work Coaches, and other selected partners.
CIPD members sign up as volunteer mentors. “They are HR professionals so they understand what employers are looking for and can help with, for instance, writing cvs, job search and interview practice,” says Jemeela Quraishi, development manager for the Steps Ahead programme. “It helps give them a better chance of securing a job.”
Mentors, who have access to free online training, provide face to face or virtual support to a job seeker in the community. This takes the form of 1-1 mentoring sessions to support them back to work through setting objectives, reviewing them, providing tips on effective job searching and boosting confidence as well as working on cv presentation, job applications and interview skills. The CIPD also has Volunteer Steps Ahead Ambassadors who promote the programme to mentee referral partners.
The initiative for young people was started up in response to the rise in youth unemployment. The young people are supplied by JobCentre Plus, with whom the CIPD partners. The mentors offer six months of face to face sessions with the mentees. Seven out of 10 of those who have completed the mentoring programme have found a job and the scheme is currently being externally evaluated so the CIPD can improve the support offered to young people and their mentors.
“We know it works,” says Jemeela. Tied with the mentoring scheme the CIPD provides feedback on the challenges faced by the mentees to employers. “We want to get employers to look at their own processes,” adds Jemeela.
Of the hundreds of people who have completed the programme since it originally launched as a pilot in 2012, the CIPD says nearly three-quarters have gone on to find work or work experience.
Jemeela hopes they will also be able to provide support to employers on how they can help women returners get back to work. Just as the initiative for young people is continuing, the CIPD hope they can keep the women returners programme going and spread it nationally, but they will only do so if it is proven to work. “If we can add value we will continue to do it.”