A big thanks to everyone who helped make our first ever Mum’s Jobs Fair such a big success today. We had a lot of training providers and lots of help and advice from colleges, Mumprenuers, and people who can help with starting a business.
I spent the morning talking to mums about what they felt they needed to get back into work – and what we need to campaign on locally. Here are the big points I heard:
1. Lots of mums want to work. Lots of people I spoke to today are really ambitious to get to work. Lots of families are really feeling the pinch right now – and lots of mums are looking to get into work to help top up the family income, especially now tax credits have been cut back so savagely and because bills are spiralling up and up.
2. We need more childcare. Lots of mums said to me that they couldn’t find childcare – especially for 1 year olds or two year olds. People had heard about the new entitlement to free places for 2 year olds – but it was very hard to find anywhere planning to offer it locally. In addition, because free provision was available for only 15 hours – and often only available in bite-size chunks in the morning or the afternoon, it was really hard to find work to fit around it. Lots of people had some children in school, and preferred nursery provision on the same site.
3. We need more skills training – and ESOL provision. Lots of mums wanted more ambitious skills training to be available in the area – and lots were struggling to find ESOL provision that would help along the road to work. We need to publicise the loans which are available to fund people in taking a course. Some felt that the JobCentrePlus courses which many were required to take – e.g. CV writing – were actually getting in the way of people finishing their English training; the vital first step towards work.
4. The childcare sector was seen as a big employment opportunity. Working with children is a big job – and lots of mums who came along today were interested in developing their skills to qualify as workers in the childcare sector. This was seen as a really accessible sector to work in – but more jobs were needed here.
5. People felt that community centres and schools were all good places to offer training and childcare services.
6. Starting a business was seen as an attractive option for many. While lots of mums told me today that they definitely wanted a job out of the house, lots more said they’d like to be able to work from home, for example starting a business. Local organisations like Mumprenuers can help with this.
7. We need to work harder with local employers – like the hospital – to offer local jobs to local people; many also wanted more opportunities for work experience.
Please drop me a line if you would like to add to this list. I’m going to now undertake the following:
1. We need to do a childcare audit to see where the big gaps are in local provision. In particular we need to make sure enough provision for 2 year olds is on the way. We need to explore how expansion of this sector can lead to expanding the number of jobs locally
2. We need to campaign for more ESOL provision and skills training – but made available in an accessible ways
3. We need to bring the City’s new Womens’ Enterprise Hubs to our constituency as soon as we can
Thanks again to all who made today possible.