by ANTONY CLAY
A TRAINING company is offering people on benefit in a Dearne Valley town the chance to acquire vital job skills in their own community.
Instead of having to travel to nearby Doncaster to get their training, course users can do their learning in Mexborough.
This saves them having to travel to an unfamiliar location which could be intimidating for some.
Free2learn has been running courses to train people for work in the security industry at Mexborough Resource Centre on Dolcliffe Road.
Since February, the six week courses have given men and women the skills needed to find jobs in roles such as event stewards, CCTV monitoring and personal protection work.
The course, run by Free2learn which has its Yorkshire HQ in Doncaster, has proved popular with its students, referred to it by Mexborough Jobcentre Plus.
The course also fits in with the resource centre boss Peter Newman’s aim to make the venue, and the nearby Mexborough Business Centre, sites for free work training to directly help local people.
Lee Carton, business development manager at Free2Learn, said: “We deliver courses in big towns but these sort of areas get overlooked. It can be intimidating for people to go to a course with people they don’t know.”
Lee said that Mexborough Jobcentre Plus, based on Adwick Road in the town, had been very supportive.
The security course offers four weeks of pre-employment training followed by two weeks for security education.
After it, people can apply for the obligatory Security Industry Authority licence which allows people to work in the sector. Free2learn pay for the licence so course attendees don’t have to fork out themselves.
Employers from the security sector attend the courses to talk to participants about the roles available, and even hand out job application forms.
Lee said: “The employers will tell people what jobs are available and leave application forms.
“What we do is that the employer comes in and has a chat about its needs and we build a rapport with the employer.
“We have had quite a lot of success really.”
Free2learn, which has just been offered a large government contract for training ensuring funding for the next year, has seen a 99 per cent pass rate from the course and, nationally, 69 per cent of people on it then moving into employment.
“If people do leave the course it’s often because they have a job,” said Lee.
He said that people have been doing security work whilst on the course because Universal Credit offers them the flexibility to do so.
As well as its base in Doncaster, Free2learn also has offices in Oldham and London and makes a point of offering community-based courses.
Women have signed up to the course. There were three women on a recent course which, said Lee, is welcome because more women are needed to work in the security field, particularly on door security.
“Women calm things down more in the workplace,” said Lee.
“We really are trying to push women if we can.”
But the course is open to anyone, even people with no experience in the security sector.
“It does not matter if you have not had any work experience.
“We want to say to people that whatever background you come from you can do this course,” said Lee.
“It’s such a diverse sector.
“It’s really taken off.”
Eighteen people attend each security sector course and the age ranges from the late teens to people in their sixties. The course is open to all.
People wanting to attend the course will be initially assessed on their English and Maths skills and if they don’t quite meet the requirements will attend an English/Maths course in Doncaster to attain the equivalent of a GCSE before starting on the security training in Mexborough.
Free2learn is aiming to offer courses at Mexborough in different sectors in the near future to provide more opportunities for work training to local people.
“We are trying to offer a range of things because it’s not just one size fits all,” said Lee.
“We are not just doing our courses in the ivory tower in Doncaster.
“We are local people. If we help people into work it’s only going to improve our community where we live and work.”
Mexborough course tutor Claire Bell said that she has seen people start the course with a shy and reserved manner and finish it with much more confidence.
She said: “The big fear for a lot of them is coming back into the classroom.
“It just gives them that confidence by working well on the course.
“It’s seeing what we can do. They don’t believe in themselves but once they get a job it all changes.”
Claire said that people with issues such as autism or dyslexia can attend the course as any special provision needed can be put in place to help them.
One course participant, Katrina, gave it her seal of approval.
“It was really welcoming and easy to get started on,” she said.
“There is a good variety of learning.”
Another attendee said: “I have found it interesting. I have done security courses before and done all types of security work before. I enjoyed the course.
“If people are concerned about signing up for it, I would say don’t worry about it.
“I would say it’s a good course.”
Tony Sheppeck, managing director of 1st Security Solutions, based in Doncaster, has visited the course to talk to students and offer jobs.
He said that there were many opportunities in the security sector.
He added: “The good thing about event security is that you get paid to attend a great event.”
Peter Newman, boss of the Mexborough Resource Centre, said that he was pleased to see the course at his site.
“I want to make it into a training centre and for community groups,” he said.
“Everyone who takes part in the course is unemployed and you can see it happening: people gaining confidence
“It’s about the local community.”