It’s impossible to ignore the challenges faced by unemployed people in the UK. We seem to be confronted with an almost daily stream of bad news related to the issue.

Only this week Ofsted published its report Skills for Employment. The report was a direct response to the government’s plans for FE providers to offer work-based training to help the unemployed into work and was critical of FE providers. It said that too many courses focussed on the achievement of qualifications, rather than concentrating on training that led to job specific skills.

One way that the sector is challenging these issues is through the REED NCFE job brokerage service. The aim of this service is to place colleges at the heart of the community, positioning them not just as places of learning but as very focussed and effective recruitment centres for local businesses.

The service is helping learners to access potential employment in the hidden jobs market. It is frustrating for job seekers that only around 1 out of 4 vacancies are ever advertised. The REED NCFE Partnership counters this frustration by setting up an on-site employment ‘shop’ at a college, targeting the 75% of vacancies which are never advertised and matching them to students at that college through tailored intervention.

The initiative responds to robust research supported by Harvard University and carried out with over 2000 employers. This research showed that 97% of employers would choose mindset over skillset as the key element in those they seek to employ and retain. This means that those who display the right mindset are 3 times more likely to find work.

I firmly believe that a partnership such as the REED NCFE initiative is the right response to the challenges they face”

The REED NCFE Job Search and Interview Skills qualifications are an active response to this research. The qualifications equip learners to identify vacancies, promote themselves, prepare for a job interview and maximise their chances of success at interview.

Lawrence Vincent, Principal of Bournemouth and Poole College told me: “The Wolf Report sent a very clear message that employment outcomes were set to become a major challenge for colleges; the latest report from Ofsted only strengthens that position. Here at Bournemouth and Poole College, we have embraced this challenge. We are very pleased to be able to offer our students a successful jobs brokerage service that is creating real opportunities.

“Since its launch in January of this year at Bournemouth and Poole, the service has had an average of 160 vacancies ring-fenced for students each month, placing a large number of them in employment at the end of their college courses.”

Whilst the report highlights many of the issues faced by colleges and their learners, I firmly believe that a partnership such as the REED NCFE initiative is the right response to the challenges they face. We are continuing to roll out this distinctive service and a number of colleges will ‘go live’ in the new academic year.

For more information on the REED NCFE initiative, please visit www.reed-ncfe.org.uk

David Grailey is Chief Executive of NCFE