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14 December 2017

Young unemployed and underemployed build the foundations for long-term careers in Stevenage

A group of young people who were each either previously unemployed, underemployed or not in education, have been invited to test their building capabilities on a housing refurbishment programme taking place in Stevenage.


15 candidates have joined national building contractor United Living to work on site in Stevenage for five-days, where they had the chance to demonstrate their suitability for developing a long-term career in the construction and utilities industries.

United Living invited the participants to spend the week getting to know the disciplines of its business as part of a new programme known as PEAT (Pre-Employment Assessment and Training), which enables potential construction newcomers the chance to trial life in the industry before deciding whether to become trained in a construction-related trade.

The programme is being delivered as part of a new partnership between United Living and Harlow-based CWOATA (Construction Workforce Operative and Trainee Assessment) who specialise in pre-employment assessments. It has been designed to help people who are currently out of work or underemployed, to find rewarding jobs with local companies in the construction and the utilities industries.

Terry Purches, 24, is a self-employed landscape gardener from Stevenage, who has been looking for more stable work due to the fluctuating nature of his business. He was initially sceptical of the PEAT programme but has changed his mind since being selected from more than 100 applicants, as well as achieving an industry-recognised CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) card as part of the scheme. He says, "At first I thought it was a con, it seemed too good to be true. Having never passed anything at school, passing the CSCS test boosted my confidence and made me proud of myself".

"The course was challenging and enjoyable... I just wish there was something like this for me when I was 18. I've learnt more over the past four weeks than I have since leaving school – it's the best thing I've ever done".

Another participant, Jamie Jackson, 28, has been to prison for two years and since returning to civilian life has struggled to find work because of his previous conviction. This has led to him racking up a lot of debt, struggling to keep his house and to provide for his two children. Jamie describes how he is grateful for being given a chance, and the benefits he has gained from the PEAT programme. He says: "I've learnt a lot from the course, it was brilliant. Life at home is a lot better now that I have guaranteed work. I've been given the opportunity to prove myself and get back into employment."

Jacquie Noon, social value manager at United Living, said: "CWOATA is a genuinely unique programme and it's making a significant contribution to our social value commitments. We are very pleased to be helping local people to find jobs and already have five of our initial fifteen candidates from Stevenage working on site. We're hopeful we will be able to secure jobs for the rest of the group in the coming weeks through our supply chain, and we are now in discussions to support the PEAT scheme across other United Living developments in the near future, including sites in Barking and Dagenham."

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