A new Virtual Job Club will be launched in Guildford next month to support local economic recovery following the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

“Skills for Employment”, launched by the Council in association with career development professionals and timed to coincide with the ending of the government’s furlough scheme, will enrol 50 people in the first programme which runs from mid-October to 31 March 2021.

From 1 April 2021, an annual programme is planned, providing support for at least 100 members. “Skills for Employment” will be open to the unemployed and those facing redundancy. It will also help school leavers and graduates by aligning with the government’s recently announced “Kickstarter” scheme for 16-24-year-olds.

Cllr John Redpath, Lead Councillor for the Economy said: “The 2020 Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic will have a deep and likely long-lasting effect on Guildford’s economy. Guildford faces an uncertain economic future in key sectors like healthcare, hospitality, retail, travel and tourism. Competition for jobs in the coming months will be between former employees from businesses of all kinds and the 2020 cohort of young people now graduating from schools, colleges and universities. There will be an urgent and immediate need for employment support for people working in those business sectors that have already been badly affected by the lockdown or closures of businesses and other organisations, even if that closure was temporary.”

The “Skills for Employment” programme is being set up by Guildford Borough Council in conjunction with The Stuart Mitchell Group. It will help individuals to understand their personal characteristics, qualities, skills and strengths, guiding them towards new career options involving employment, enterprise or volunteering.  

Business experts will help individuals learn new skills, enabling them to return to employment or start a business of their own through an interactive online programme of lectures, group workshops, one-to-one mentoring, tailored training and educational resources. Practical advice will include CV-writing and interview techniques. Participants will also have access to a community forum to support each other.

The scheme will focus on how skills can be adapted and transferred between employers and business sectors, including looking at new industries such as green technology. It will also look at collaboration opportunities through referrals and partnerships, working with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Jobcentre Plus, local employers and employer organisations such as Surrey Chambers of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses.

Stuart Mitchell, provider of online services to the Guildford Job Club and Co-Founder of Stuart Mitchell and Co Ltd says: “In these unprecedented times of economic recovery, the people who need the greatest support that the local community can provide are those who have been hardest hit by being made redundant, and those entering the job market for the first time. As Henry Ford said, ‘Before everything else, getting ready is the secret of success’.”