Bridging the gap between the skills employees have and the skills that employers need.
Blog post by Stephen Hinde, Community Manager & Sarah Axon, Grants Manager for Ufi VocTech Trust
Fewer than 20% of people with mild to moderate learning difficulties are in employment. A Ufi–funded project led by Digital Unite aims to change that by training Digital Champions who can support people with learning disabilities in their pathway to work.
A recent survey of existing champions showed the effectiveness of the ‘champion’ method and the research has resulted in the project now having a clearer vision of what they need to do next.
Digital Unite’s new programme, called DCN Aspire will help adults with learning disabilities in to work through the development of workplace, social, and digital skills. DCN Aspire will train people as coaches and mentors (Champions) and help create a wider network of Champions who can provide enhanced one-on-one support to people with learning disabilities.
Digital Unite were awarded a grant from the VocTech Specialist 2019 funding call which was introduced to combat the gaps between skills employees have, and the skills employers need.
The funding call started with a discovery phase where Digital Unite had a pre-project exploration so that they could better understand the needs that their services could have on people with learning disabilities.
After discovery, and during the delivery of their project, it was important to gather as much data as possible from existing champions so that they could then continue to build in a way that their community, and their learners, would benefit from most.
Over 100 of Digital Unite’s existing Digital Champions took part in the survey which aimed to:
- Understand their pre-existing experience of helping people with learning disabilities.
- Gain insight into the digital champions’ current company’s appetite to support people with learning disabilities.
- Discover what content the digital champions would need to support people with learning disabilities to develop employability skills.
Respondents to the survey work in roles such as personal development, employment support, learning co-ordination, adult education, and some of the respondents joined up to Digital Unite’s platform for personal reasons as they have family & friends with learning disabilities.
During the survey, the Digital Champions answered a question about what digital skills they had helped someone with, and the most common answers were around using tools that are commonly used in workplaces, or in gaining access to work:
- Using email
- Browsing the internet
- Using a desktop computer or tablet
- Accessing online entertainment like music and video games
- Creating a CV
- Online job applications
Comments in the report include:
Managed to complete training for work experience
Created CV, uploaded it and started looking for a job.
Wouldn't use a PC without support but is now able to use without assistance.
One learner has even found the confidence to set up their own business!
Hearing about the feedback received from Digital Unite’s work was a big vote of confidence in the effectiveness of using the ‘champions’ method.
Digital Unite intend to use the survey findings to develop DCN Aspire into a project that will help modernise traditional workplace training for people with learning disabilities and enable them to be part of new and changing work environments.