In the wake of the global pandemic, social distancing led to millions of families being locked down together in their homes whilst being impacted by widespread job and income loss.
Fozia is a Jobcentre Plus Work Coach who works with job seekers aged 25 and over with complex circumstances. Since October 2020, Fozia has been helping vulnerable women get back into work. As many of the job seekers she works with often struggle with English, being bi-lingual has helped Fozia in her role as a Work Coach.
“I speak fluent Urdu, and this definitely helps,” says Fozia. “Speaking to people in their own language, particularly when they’re vulnerable, makes them feel more comfortable.” Having a shared culture has enabled Fozia to build a better rapport with those she works with. She says her customers often express how happy they are to have her as their Work Coach, and feel at ease when speaking to her over the phone.
Since some find it difficult to complete tasks, such as filling in application forms as English is not their first language, they trust Fozia to assist them. Fozia understands why some people may struggle more than others to get back into work due to care responsibilities or looking after large families. Other common barriers include long gaps in employment, a lack of digital skills, disabilities, health issues, and not having a laptop.
With a deep sense of cultural understanding, Fozia is well placed to offer sound solutions. “I tailor my support depending on each customer,” she says. “As a Work Coach, it’s important for me to align my personal approach to how it suits my customers. I speak to people at least every 2-3 weeks to see how they’re getting on so I can make sure they get the right support depending on their situation.”
For example, there are language courses available to help those struggling with English, and IT programmes to help people gain additional skills and qualifications. One of these is the Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS)*, an employment support programme for people who have been out of work and claiming Universal Credit or New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance for at least 13 weeks. This includes specialist advice on how job seekers can move into growing sectors, tips on building CVs, and interview coaching.
For customers with disabilities and health issues, Fozia refers customers to the Work and Health Programme*, which provides personalised support to help people manage their challenges to reduce the impact on their ability to look for work. “There are many resources available, and my job is to find the right support for each person’s needs,” says Fozia. “I also recommend the National Careers Service*, which can help people with their career, learning and training choices.”
If you’re looking for work, JobHelp is a good place to start. Vacancies recently returned to pre-pandemic levels so there are jobs out there to apply for. Visit gov.uk/jobhelp to get started.
*Eligibility criteria apply. Please enquire with your local Jobcentre Plus