Finding ways of helping over burdened case workers by giving vulnerable young people and adults the opportunity to learn basic highway works that will help improve their chances of gaining mainstream employment. The demand on local authorities providing adult and children’s services is increasing while the budget for these services has dropped significantly. Engaging candidates not in education, employment or training (NEETs) or those with special educational needs would have a benefit for the individual, the local authority, the highways industry and the wider society.
To be successful the scheme also needed to match the interests and career goals of the individuals with opportunities in Highways. The aim was also to advance the holistic personal and social development of young people and improve their well-being.
Suitable candidates for the project, most of whom were in the care of SCC Youth Support Service, Adult Social Care and Surrey Choices, were selected and then took part in a 16-week programme to learn skills used within the industry, This reduced the time caseworkers spent with them and candidates were fully supported by Kier once the programme had been completed. Ambitious apprentice recruitment targets established by Surrey Highways Apprentice and Training Plan were met, and Kier, SCC, and other organisations involved with S-Skills programme were able to find quality young apprentices.
S-Skills achieved its two main ambitions: to help bring down the increase in demand for local authority services and establish a means for young people to get a footing in the world of work by providing them with the skills not just for Highways but for any industry.
One 18-year-old man with limited education and learning disabilities as well as no support structure. was able to gain experience working within teams, gaining the confidence to find and retain a job and enhance his self-esteem.
Kier Group Social calculation model showed an annual social value of the project of £420,000. This was validated by Kier’s social value consultant and auditors Price Waterhouse Coopers.
" S-Skills was developed as a response to a number of problems; recruitment, budget cuts and rising levels of crime in communities…the right thing to do "General Manager Kier Highways
Setting up and running a project aimed at giving unemployed young people the opportunity to work on variety of projects at Kier North Tyneside, working with North Tyneside Council and Justice Prince ( a community interest company), and helping the young people learn new skills and grow in confidence.