Here to help – how Thirteen supports local businesses and local people

Tees Business Digital Media Pack

Thirteen’s employability team delivers a number of in-house services and externally funded contracts to a wide range of customers across the Tees Valley and County Durham.

To achieve the best possible outcomes for customers, the service works closely with local employers offering a free, tailor-made employer engagement function.

“We have a team of dynamic and experienced officers working to support employers,” says Susan Borrow, Thirteen’s care and support manager (contracts).

“They pride themselves in providing businesses with exceptional candidates who are well-suited to their vacancies as part of employers’ selection or interview processes.”

The free service includes:

• A dedicated employer engagement officer who will meet with the employer to understand its business needs and tailor a service to meet them. This gives employers a single point of contact who will support them before, during and after the recruitment process
• An end-to-end service providing support to identify suitable, enthusiastic and job-ready candidates for the business
• Promotion of vacancies with existing customers
• Pre-screening, shortlisting and matching candidates to ensure suitability to vacancies
• Running training academies and sector-specific routeways to identify suitable customers for roles
• Checking the candidate’s competency and behaviours based on specific role requirements
• In-work support to keep in contact and make sure the recruitment process runs smoothly
• Access to more than 600 potential job-ready candidates who have all been pre-assessed, so the employer engagement team knows they are skilled, experienced and available for an immediate start.

When placing individuals into work with exclusive employers, the employer engagement team has regular contact with the employer for six months to support sustainment.

“The team is currently engaged with 112 employers from a range of industry sectors and fills exclusive vacancies that aren’t advertised on the open jobs market,” Susan continues. “And it’s a testament to the service that these employers regularly return to the team with other opportunities.

“Their commitment to supporting local people is fantastic, and 12 of those employers work with our team to actively support customers who have offending backgrounds to help them get back on their feet.”

The team also works with Thirteen’s contractors as part of their social value commitment. To date, the team has placed 25 customers into work with sub-contractors, five of whom were ex-offenders. Seventy-eight customers have also been supported into work within Thirteen.

The service hosts a training centre function that has direct claims status via NOCN and develops and delivers bespoke sector-based qualifications, together with Thirteen’s employability service and volunteering/peer mentoring accredited programmes.

“We’ve developed and delivered bespoke training programmes to meet employer recruitment and skill-set needs,” says Susan. “That way, we can make sure we’re putting the best candidates forward for vacancies.”

Thirteen’s free employability service supports individuals who live in Thirteen homes and wider communities too, offering face-to-face and virtual support on a one-to-one and group basis.

The service has Matrix Standard accreditation, the Department for Education’s (DfE) standard for high-quality information, advice and guidance provision.

Since it launched in May 2016 to February 2021, the service has supported 5,192 local people.

• 2,302 have started in employment, education or training
• 1,617 found employment or an apprenticeship
• 682 accessed full-time education or vocational training
• 3,144 also received some form of supported intervention to break down barriers to work, improving their chances of landing their ideal role.

Everyone who accesses the service gets personalised support and weekly appointments from an allocated employability caseworker, each of whom has a Level 3 qualification in Information, Advice and Guidance.

Susan said: “This team is really committed to getting the best outcomes for our customers. Team members work with their customers to create personalised actions plans based on a diagnostic assessment tool with short, medium and long-term goals and the key tasks that go with them.

“The support doesn’t stop there though. When they move into work, all our customers get in-work support for six months to support make sure they’re happy and can sustain the role.”

Thirteen is a housing association that’s the proud owner of around 34,000 homes, with 30,000 of them in the Tees Valley. As well as homes for rent, Thirteen offers them for sale, shared ownership – and builds properties too, as well as providing a range of support services to help people live independently.