Former Essential Skills student, Allan Winter.

Partnership with Local Business Boosts Employment

14 April 2021

A two-week training programme created by North Notts College in partnership with Worksop Job Centre and Bassetlaw District Council has helped three locals gain employment with fresh dog food company Butternut Box.

The bespoke online course was designed in line with vacancies available at Butternut Box, to help the trainees gain the skills needed to hit the ground running in their new roles and was completely free to both the employer and the trainees. All students were guaranteed an interview at the end of the course and Allan Winter, was one student who was successful; he is now employed in a full-time permanent role as a General Operative.

Allan says: “After being let go from my job in the first lockdown, I was looking for labour or construction work and applying for jobs every day, but I wasn’t having any luck.

“I applied for over 100 jobs and was giving up hope. I asked the Job Centre what I could do to improve my chances and that’s how I got onto the course at North Notts College.

“I was nervous about learning online; I thought it would be awkward, but it was OK and it means you don’t have to travel anywhere and you can have a cup of tea while you’re learning. The tutors, Lesley and Emma, made everything very clear and straight forward. They’d teach for part of the session and then we did some work in our own time.”

North Notts College’s Adult and Community Learning Manager Melanie Hancock said the course was originally planned to be taught face-to-face but had to move to online due to changes in Government guidance at the start of the year.

Mel said: “We are grateful to our staff who quickly adapted the course to online and we’re incredibly proud of all the students’ hard work and dedication. We are delighted for those who have been successful in gaining employment and wish them well in their new roles.”

Mel continued: “The partnership with Butternut Box has been a huge success and something the College would like to do more of with other local businesses. We like to work closely with employers to make sure we are upskilling local residents in line with their recruitment needs. This offers a two-fold benefit: employers gain staff that have been trained for free in-line with their requirements and are ready to hit the ground running, and job seekers can boost their employability skills and increase their chances of securing a new job.”

Laura Gordon, Head of People at Rudie’s Kitchen at Butternut Box said they were keen to look at all opportunities to attract local candidates.

Laura said: “The pandemic has had devastating impacts and in a lot of cases caused many people being furloughed or to lose their jobs creating uncertainty. Opening a Butternut Box Kitchen in Blyth gave us an opportunity to attract local talent and boost employment in the local area. Partnering with North Notts College gave us an additional avenue to grow awareness about the roles we were recruiting for and also train interviewees on the skills we were looking for so they also felt equally prepared and gained important skills for the future.

“The tutors were fantastic, they worked in partnership with us and showed a real interest in what we do. They invited us to do a company overview session at the beginning of the course so we could introduce ourselves, Butternut Box’s values and talk about the roles available, salary and job opportunities.

“We take food safety, health and safety and manual handling incredibly seriously to keep our teammates safe at work, the tutors ensured those elements were included on the course. They also covered softer skills such as communication and behavioural skills, CV writing skills and interview skills to help the candidates prepare for the interviews. We recognise during this time it can be quite difficult going for multiple interviews and especially when the majority are now done remotely, it can feel quite daunting.”

The benefits to those who attend the course can be transformational and are clear to see from Allan’s experience, who says: “After a year of not working, when I got the email offering me the job it was brilliant; it sounded too good to be true because I had applied for so many jobs and not been successful.

“For anyone who’s struggling to find work, I would advise them to look anywhere and everywhere to get back to work, whether it’s a learning course like I’ve done, or make more contact with job centres or your local college to see what they can do.”

We offer a range of Essential Skills courses for a variety of abilities to help local people develop key skills in English, Maths and IT and grow confidence and teamwork skills.


Find out more about the support we offer job seekers and local businesses

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