The Restart Scheme is a new government scheme that supports people who are claiming Universal Credit and have been in the Intensive Work Search Regime for 9 months or more. It is part of the Government’s wider ‘Plan for Jobs’ to help people who have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19 to find work and get back on the road to recovery.
Sarah was referred for digital skills support in October 2021 by the Restart team in Seetec, Bournemouth. Sarah engaged with the training and was open about her history with digital skills;
“I had a lack of confidence with digital skills because I had a lack of experience. In my previous job role was always paired with someone really strong with digital skills so I was able to use their skills instead of having to do it myself. I was working in Schools so you have very little time and you just need to get the job done. I never set aside the time to learn it. I had a lack of knowledge and experience which led to a lack of confidence, this also prevented me from going for it and learning more”.
Like many participants taking part in the Restart Scheme, this led Sarah to feel a bit overwhelmed at the prospect of applying for jobs where digital skills would be required. “I knew it would be a barrier and I realised how much it would get in the way if I didn’t improve my digital skills. The interview I had recently was online, so I know now everything is online. Before Covid, it would have been face-to-face so I could get around it and just offer to come in and meet them, whereas now it is a barrier if you can’t do things online and these are the obstacles that were getting in the way of me getting where I want to be.”
Sarah and her Digital Trainer created a plan of targets that Sarah would like to achieve and review these regularly. These targets were directly linked to skills that Sarah felt would benefit her in the jobs she wanted to apply for, such as Teaching Assistant jobs. Sarah also discussed that she was using an iPhone at home but was aware that organisations might be more likely to use Windows and Android devices that she wasn’t familiar with.
During her time on the Restart Scheme, Sarah was provided with an Android tablet and she was then able to work with her Trainer to learn how to navigate this and utilise it to practice the skills she might need in the workplace. Sarah attended one-to-one support sessions to go over these topics and found that she could relate each one to things she knew she’d need to feel confident in for a job interview.
One of the targets Sarah was working towards was to feel confident to use video conferencing applications to conduct remote calls, meetings and job interviews. In her sessions, Sarah worked with her Trainer on understanding MS Teams, how this would work if she was invited to a remote job interview as well as how it is utilised in organisations. Shortly after, she was invited to a remote job interview on Teams and said;
“With the interview on Teams, whereas before doing the digital skills I would have panicked, this time I quite confidently said, “ok I’ll see you online”. Because we’d been through it in training I knew what would happen and it wasn’t as scary as I thought.”
Sarah was successful in her interview and is now looking forward to starting work.
“I think not only will I be able to use the skills to attain the jobs I want and get back to work, but I will be able to use these within the job role that I do, I have spent 11 years training to get where I am, but there was this massive block because I didn’t have the confidence to use the digital skills, so it’s going to benefit me a lot in the job that I do.”
Trisha, Sarah’s Digital Trainer, is very pleased with Sarah’s progress;
“This is exactly what I feel the Restart Scheme is in place for, a lot of people had jobs previously where they didn’t need to utilise digital skills, whereas it’s a new way of working now, particularly after so many organisations having to work remotely in the last couple of years. Sarah worked really hard on the digital skills training and was dedicated to it. It’s really rewarding to see someone have that realisation that these skills will open doors for them and that they can do it. I wish Sarah the best of luck for the future.”