The ESF ESOL and Employment Support project, funded by the European Social Fund and Luton Borough Council, was designed to deliver ESOL training and Employment Support to workless migrant adults, with the aim of improving their English and employability skills to move them closer to paid employment.
The project started in April 2014, completed in May 2015, with the aim of delivering a package of activities and support based on individual needs. To be eligible participants had to be a workless migrant adult who was actively seeking employment, not already engaged in a ESF funded Programme and a UK resident living in Luton.
Participants accessed structured work related beginner level ESOL English Language Training, to help participants gain an understanding of workplace processes, communication and health and safety whilst gaining language skills. During their language training participants were also offered:
- Into Employment Support through our Work Clubs and Information, Advice and Guidance sessions, identifying individual training and employment needs and included help with CV writing, job seeking, application form completion, covering letters and interview techniques.
- Qualification Comparison service using the government endorsed NARIC system which compares the UK status of overseas qualifications.
Between April 2014 and March 2015 we ran 25 cohorts of ESOL and the Work Clubs at the following providers:
- Access Europe (AE), Qualification Conversion and Work Club at PBIC.
- Bedfordshire African Community Centre (BACC) 9 cohorts at their venue (town centre location)
- Centre for Youth and Community Development (CYCD) 3 cohorts at their venue (Bury Park)
- Luton Adult Learning (LAL) 5 cohorts at their venue (town centre location)
- Polish British Integration Centre (PBIC) 8 cohorts at different venues: Luton Rights, Beech Hill Childrens’ Centre and Denbigh Primary School
Due to the diversity and extensive experience of our providers we were able to offer project activities tailored to the individual needs of our participants. Each provider adjusted the model of delivery to the specific needs of our diverse group of clients e.g. there was different intensity and level of the ESOL training courses with different providers.
As a result of the project we met and overachieved our targets:
- 299 participants were enrolled
- 263 participants completed all elements of training
- 69 participants entered employment
- 76 participants had their qualifications converted into British equivalent
All our completers improved their English Language Skills, enhancing their employability and strengthening their integration into the local community. Many of them entered sustained employment and others are job ready and effectively looking for employment.
The Work Club for Migrants proved to be very successful. It was offered to all to practice their skills and gain confidence.
All our clients had access to a laptop and the internet to practice language, IT and employability skills including job searching and filling in applications online. The environment provided an excellent opportunity for clients to network and helped with developing their self-confidence. As a result of the Work Clubs participants improved their position in relation to the labour market employment opportunities.
Work Club Website – this resource was developed by the Learning Partnership and launched in June 2014 to support clients who were on the programme and reduce the amount of paper resources.
This invaluable resource for migrant workers was updated weekly with current vacancies on the local market, encouraging less digitally advanced participants for job seeking and upgrading their employability skills.
The website also included Google Translate to support clients whose first language is not English. This effectively supported clients with language issues and allowed them to understand British work culture and requirements of British employers.
The ESOL and Employment Support for Migrants Programme LUT40 was promoted via publications, meetings and different events throughout the duration of the project. Posters and leaflets published in 3 languages (English, Polish and Portuguese) were disseminated to referral agencies, community organisations and individuals.
Luton’s Employment, Training and Skills (LETS) Fair
We took part in two Fairs on 18th September 2014 and 25the February 2015, allowing us to engage with other training organisations, to publicise our project and assess the job market. It was also a practical exercise for our clients to attend, publicise their skills and seek out possible job opportunities.
Experience Counts Job Fair
On 15th January 2015 JCP Luton organised a recruitment event aimed to 45+ clients who were feeling stigmatised by their age and who were struggling to find a job. This was another opportunity to for us to publicise the projects, as well as signing up a number of clients on our programme.
Adult Learners Week Awards Ceremony
On 19th June 2015 Bofilla Ngwa, adviser from BACC, was highly commended for the Tutor of the Year Award, sponsored by the ESF Team Bedford Borough / Central Bedfordshire Council and nominated by Ewa Depka, Partnership Co-ordinator, the Learning Partnership. The award was presented by Nick Barton, CEO of London Luton Airport and Steve Kendall, Chair of the Board of the Learning Partnership. The ceremony took place at the University of Bedfordshire.
Bofilla proved to be extremely successful in placing migrants into work, supporting them in various issues and empowering them for their future in a diverse vibrant community.
As a result of Bofilla’s commitment and dedication to the project over 70 of her clients increased their ability to interact, communicate and improve their motivation to gain successful employment.
Her holistic and personalised approach makes a positive impact on her clients. It gives them hope and brings back dignity in their lives.
Here are some of our clients’ stories:
Bedfordshire African Community Centre
Case Study 1 – Mr D (Male, 53, Western European)
Mr D moved to Luton to find work, but had been unsuccessful. He was referred to us by an Agency for ESOL and accessed the learning support provided under that programme. However, Mr D was homeless and soon began showing signs of suffering ill health (respiratory and joint issues) as a result of sleeping rough. His Personal Advisor helped Mr D complete an application form for help with medical costs, so that he could purchase his prescriptions.
When Mr D moved back to the town, we continued to keep in touch. He was still sleeping rough, and unable to find work. His Advisor helped him make a few applications for employment (unsuccessfully) but later on was successful in getting him employment with a local employer. His Personal Advisor helped him in completing his registration and DBS checks. He needed to travel to his job and his Advisor made arrangements for his transportation.
Mr D still sleeps rough, but his Personal Advisor is still working on securing him accommodation; he has also been helped with creating an email address so that he can receive his payslips.
Case Study 2 – Mr I (Male, 66, Black African)
Mr I was a retired person living in London, but soon found himself placed in Luton by his local borough after having resided in the area for almost 18yrs. Mr I found himself in new surroundings, not knowing anyone, and by chance he came across the ESOL course and was eligible to join. He quickly built up an excellent attendance record, because for Mr I, this wasn’t just an opportunity to learn English, but also to be around other people.
Mr I was encouraged to visit the Centre at any occasion, which he would, and his Personal Advisor would help him log on to the PC and find an online newspaper in his language, so he could read it.
He soon wanted to know how the keyboard functioned, and was signposted to another provider for IT training, but could not be enrolled because of his level of English, but he kept attending. Through the Work Club, he obtained a CV which he used to gain employment. He secured full time employment at Luton Borough Council as a cleaning operative.
Later Mr I came to his Personal Advisor because he was concerned he had not received any communication from the Council that housed him regarding his accommodation or rent. In this conversation his Advisor also enquired about the payment of his council tax which he understood his London Council was responsible for or had made arrangements for.
However, his Personal Advisor urged him to just confirm with the local council, and attended the appointment with him where he found that he was actually responsible for it and was so much in arrears that he had been given a court date. Mr I was stunned – he had not been told by the London council that he was responsible, nor was he aware of the debt piling up. His Personal Advisor was able to arrange a payment plan for Mr I, which he and the Council were both happy with.
In light of this, his Advisor made contact with his London Housing Department to inform of a change in his circumstance, and Mr I was also shocked to find out that rental arrears, which he had no knowledge of, had built up which were now likely to increase because of his new status.
In many conversations between the Housing Department, his caseworker and our Centre staff, we were able to settle on an arrangement that was agreeable to both parties. His Personal Advisor helped him set up the Standing Order charge, with the monthly payment figures. He was also supported in locating more affordable accommodation.
Case Study 3 – Ms G (Female, 52, Black African)
Ms G moved here to find employment, but was struggling due to her language skills. She was enrolled but also needed employment and a place to stay.
In due time, her Personal Advisor was able to get Ms G into employment locally, but no contract was initially issued. Ms G had received support in completing the registration form, DBS checks and compiling the necessary documents and journey planning.
Ms G did not have a National Insurance number or a bank account; Her Personal Advisor made an appointment for her, and provided supporting documentation to boost her application, in addition to identifying the necessary information of her employer to provide for National Insurance registration. Ms G was also able to open a bank account. Her Personal Advisor put her in touch with another client in the hope that she would be introduced to her employer and get secondary employment (which was successful).
Ms G continued to receive support and signposting to improve her communication skills. The support continued even after the course when Ms G experienced issues with her employer regarding payment, her Personal Advisor made contact with her employer to resolve the misunderstanding, attended appointments with her at other agencies, in informing the local authorities of her change in circumstances, contacted her suppliers and her bank to make the necessary changes. Ms G is now stable and returning to normal.
Case Study 4 – Ms P (Female, 37, Western European) – Young children w/ partner
Ms P resided in property which she did not realise had been sublet to them, and was subsequently evicted from the property whilst she was attending our programme.
In order for her and family to have some sort of stability, the homelessness issue had to be addressed and her Personal Advisor worked with her through the process of making a homelessness application, attended appointments with her at LBC until temporary accommodation was provided.
Her Personal Advisor then assisted her to plan her journey from her temporary location (outside of Luton) so that she could continue to attend the ESOL sessions. Her Advisor helped her inform her child’s school of the reason why her child was initially absent from school.
When private accommodation was provided her Personal Advisor took the client to the letting agents and eventually to the house so they could settle in. Her Advisor also worked with them to set up the utilities (gas/electric/water), so that they could continue some form of normality. The child’s school needed to be changed and support was given to the mother to make the necessary requests to the LEA and complete the required forms.
With the course over, her Advisor encouraged the mother to participate in some group activities to encourage her to practice what she had been learning, meet up with other people and be part of something. She felt encouraged to the point where she wanted to apply for employment at a school. Together we completed the application form (based on the CV compiled during the Work Club), contacted the National Careers Service for support, and ran through several interview scenarios. Although she was not successful in getting employment that time, she felt encouraged, because it meant she could achieve it.
Case Study 5 – Ms V (Female, 54, Western European) – Single parent, young child
Ms V moved to Luton with her child, after her business closed due to the economic situation in her home country, with the hope of gaining employment. She moved in temporarily with family members but the living conditions were becoming difficult for all. The main issue was the language barrier and the client attended classes regularly to overcome that. The client needed employment, but it was difficult at the time, finances were strained and she was assisted in making a claim for Child Benefit.
She was referred on for further learning and continued to work on her English, her Personal Advisor providing her with moral support and encouraging her to volunteer as a way of reducing isolation, encouraging communication and updating / maintaining her skills.
Through networking with a local business the Advisor was able to secure a trial-turned-employment for the client, helping her complete the necessary paperwork to work (DBS checks, registration forms, etc.), but the client and child were soon going without meals, because of the delay in payment from employment.
Her Personal Advisor informed our Outreach Worker and together they were able to secure food parcels for the client and family on 2 occasions, whilst her Personal Advisor continued to maintain contact with her employer to follow up on her wages. In all this time the Advisor kept encouraging the client to keep her going. She also wanted to continue improving her language skills because she understood its importance and relevance to her future.
She did get paid eventually, but also had the confidence to seek a better paid job and move into her own place with her child. She is in a good place now – we are working towards a plan for the future and she continues to receive assistance in ensuring that she gets the right financial support.
Centre for Youth and Community Development
Case Study 6 – Mr A (Male, 58, Asian)
Mr A had worked all his life, for thirty-five years working in a bakery rising to managing a number of bakeries in London and north of the city. At the end of 2013 he was diagnosed with an allergy to wheat which meant that he could no longer work in a bakery and has been unemployed ever since. He has no trouble at all speaking English, but there are barriers to his comprehension in reading and writing which he wanted to improve.
Mr A had “no trouble at all” in the classes and was a supportive learner to other students. The major barrier was the serious unexplained illness of his four year old daughter which took him from class occasionally because of hospital visits to London. His reading and writing did improve but the course was too short for him to make marked progress.
He took advantage of the guidance services included in the project. Mr A is no longer a job seeker. Because of caring for his daughter he applied for income support but was turned down and had been waiting for 4 months for the appeal.
During the class sessions Mr A did a great deal of thinking about what work he could do, and had some good plans. These unfortunately have been put on hold due to his waiting for his daughter’s health to improve, and when this is sorted he will continue to look for work.
“Of course I will. I am a worker. I HATE being unemployed.”, said Mr A.
Case Study 7 – Mrs A (Female, 23, Asian)
Mrs A came to the class after an interview in a school in which, if all legalities were in place, they wanted to employ her as a teaching assistant. She was interested in having the opportunity to improve her speaking and listening skills and was eager to get more information about employment processes in the UK.
Ms A said that she had no barriers for access to the class. In fact, she said, it was “very easy”. Ms A reported that it was a “good course” and she learned a lot in how to apply for a job, with a lot of examples in different approaches to apply for work.
She also made new friends, benefited from information which helped her afterwards, and increased her confidence in applying for jobs and learning about many more agencies offering work.
Several months later she was still NOT teaching, but instead she did some fruit packing and other jobs. Right now Mrs A is pregnant and at home. She has stopped working. However, she has been offered training as a teaching assistant and will take that up once the baby arrives.
Luton Adult Learning
Case Study 8 – Mrs S (Female, 35, Asian)
Mrs S came from Pakistan, where she had done intermediate studies, in 2010. She was a teacher in a primary school 5 years, but when she came to the UK she had nothing to do. That’s when she started searching for language courses.
After two years, she found a place to study English and started an ESOL course in 2013. In November 2014 she started an ESF ESOL and Employability Programme which finished on 12th December 2014. It was a short course but she had to go to class every day and was so useful because she was able to use English every day.
In the ESF course she learned how to produce a CV, how to do job search on the internet, how to write a formal cover letter and she was shown the National Careers Service website. After the ESF course, she decided to learn more about the computer so she completed an ITQ Level 1 course in 2015.
She learnt so much from the course and as a result she gained confidence in speaking English and using the computer. After the course, she took voluntary work experience in a mosque in Luton and at present she is working as an ESOL volunteer at Luton Adult Learning Centre. She is helping some pre-entry ESOL learners with their English. At the same time, she is still learning English to gain more confidence and would like to be a teacher in the future.
Case Study 9 – Mrs M (Female, 30, Asian)
Mrs M came from Syria in 2011. In 1999 – 2000, she did secondary school (Examination Industrial) and in 2011-2012 she completed her ESOL E1. She started the ESF course for ESOL and Employment Support in November 2014 and finished in December 2014.
In this ESF course, she learned how to search for jobs, how to write a formal letter and how to produce a CV. The course was very useful and she went to the class every day and learnt how to use the computer to search for information on the internet.
She felt so much more confident but it was a short course, only a month and the time went very quickly. After the ESF course, she chose to do volunteer training with Tracey at Luton Adult Learning and passed her Safeguarding training. Now, she is helping with pre-entry students in Luton Adult Learning as a volunteer.
“My ESOL course is very helpful for my English and it helps me to build my skills. I feel more confident now. I am still learning English to improve myself because I want to be a teacher or a teaching assistant in the future” said Mrs M.
Polish British Integration Centre
Case Study 10 – Miss K (Female, 32, Eastern European)
When Miss K first attended the Work Club she had been unemployed for more than year but was very motivated to find any type of sustainable employment. She identified that the main barrier to progressing her career goals of becoming a hairdresser in UK was her lack of confidence in speaking and writing English.
She was already qualified in Poland as a Master in hairdressing and had over seven years’ experience working as a self-employed hairdresser. When she moved to the United Kingdom she was only capable of applying for temporary manual types of jobs and therefore enrolled onto the ESOL course with Employability skills to improve her English literacy skills and learn about different channels of support in job hunting.
By actively participating in the session activities Miss K has progressively developed self-confidence in her ability to implement various job hunting techniques such as volunteering, application forms and using online Job Boards to secure her employment as a hairdresser. Following from the initial Work Club at which Miss K received the application for Volunteering at Luton Borough Council and detailed Guide how to register and run hairdresser business.
Subsequently, Miss K researched local job advertisements for a hairdresser and contacted the tutor to discuss funding options to assist her in finding mentoring support for the development of a business plan as a self-employed hairdresser. Miss K demonstrated in-depth knowledge on writing a CV and cover letter and shared good practice with other students in a group discussion. Finally, Miss K improved her interview skills to a satisfactory level which enabled her to present her skills and experience in the mock interview effectively.
As a result of attending the Work Club Miss K improved her confidence in applying transferable skills and developed an up-to-date CV to be able to search for a part time hairdressing job in the United Kingdom. Miss K continues to learn the English language and confirmed that she has been working on a Business Development Plan for her business venture. Once she completes her plan she expressed an interest to register onto Start Up program at start-up.co.uk.
Case Study 11 – Mr SB (Male, 49, Asian)
Mr SB, originally from Pakistan, came to live in the UK nearly 20 years ago. He’s a British citizen and he used to work for many years in different factories and warehouses. Mr SB hasn’t got any qualifications gained in the UK. He is a father and he provides for his family so for him getting into English classes was also the opportunity to get information about job search skills, filling in job applications and practicing interview skills.
Although his spoken English is fairly good, Mr SB needs to improve his reading and writing skills. He has learnt some English from everyday life experience and working environment. When he started the ESOL course delivered by PBIC he was unemployed and he was referred to the course by the Job Centre in Luton. Mr SB was highly motivated to learn English and his confidence and self-esteem were at a quite high level. The main areas for improvement were grammar, reading, spelling and writing.
Mr SB needed a lot of support with the above mentioned skills. Fortunately he was keen to work hard to improve his skills. He did his homework regularly and additional spelling exercises. He was also very active during ESOL lessons and also helpful towards other learners. He benefited from English lessons and after finishing the first cohort (36h) he started the second cohort. He passed the final exam with a high score of 78%.
In the meantime he was also looking for work and his job search resulted in having a few job interviews. For some time those interviews were not successful but finally in March he had a successful interview which resulted in him gaining employment. In April 2015 he got a job at Amazon and he’s been working there since then. It seems like he’s got a chance to get a permanent job there soon.
Mr SB has now been working for over four months and he enjoys his job. He feels more confident about his future and he would like to continue ESOL classes sometime in the future.
Case Study 12 – Mrs N (Female, 37, Arabic)
Mrs N moved to the UK from Algeria in 2011. In her home country she received a good standard of education and in 2003 graduated from Mentouri University in Constantine with a degree in teaching.
After completing her qualifications she started her first job, working as a college tutor at Zes Fiere SALHI (Centre de Information) in Ain Beida teaching accounts, insurance and mathematics to students aged 14-18 and providing special support where required. She found her job very vibrant, fulfilling and enjoyable.
In 2011 Mrs N married and moved to Luton which meant giving up her work and teaching career. She now has two young boys and her main job is looking after her family. Although this keeps her very busy she is determined to start a career in the future and return to teaching – the work she enjoys and misses. Mrs N speaks fluent French and Arabic, but she realised that her English needs improving if she is to achieve her career goal. After talking to staff at Building Blocks Children’s Centre she was referred to the ESF ESOL & Employment Support programme.
In her first meeting with the Access Europe adviser she asked for help with preparing a CV, comparing her Algerian qualification via NARIC and helping to set up a plan of how to start a teaching career in the UK. Over one-to-one advice sessions and Work Club Mrs N’s CV was developed and the tutor spent time discussing and exploring the best routes into teaching for her. She was also referred to teaching information websites and the National Careers Service.
It was agreed that while working on her English language Mrs N will apply for teaching assistant positions and in the future progress into teaching. Her qualifications were compared as part of the project and she was delighted to find out that her Algerian diploma is comparable to British Bachelor degree standard (something that may be crucial for gaining British QTS in the future).
When Mrs N joined the project her confidence was very low and she was very uncertain about her future career opportunities. On completion she left with a new CV, converted qualification and a plan on how to achieve her professional aim of becoming a teacher.
Case Study 13 – Mrs AK (Female, 55, Eastern European)
Mrs AK is Polish and she moved to the UK in 2003. In Poland her jobs included running a small farm and working as a carer looking after an elderly lady. When she moved to Luton she first worked for a recruitment agency and then in June 2003 she secured permanent employment with Pratt & Co (Bananas) in Luton, where the work was hard but not difficult, so she was happy and felt secure in her employment. She has gained a lot of experience and completed NVQ Level 2 in Food Manufacture.
It came as a complete shock to her when in January 2014 (after more than 10 years in her job) she was told she was selected for redundancy. She appealed but was unsuccessful. The experience of redundancy put enormous pressure on Anna’s mental health and she was diagnosed with depression and her confidence and motivation suffered. She believed that at 55 she had no chance of finding a new job.
A concerned friend referred Mrs AK to Access Europe and during the first one-to-one session the adviser suggested the ESF ESOL & Employment Support programme. Initially Mrs AK was not sure if she could cope with classroom lessons as she was still suffering from depression. However, she knew she needed to take steps to put past experiences behind her and to move on with her life. After careful consideration she decided to sign up for the programme.
When Mrs AK attended her first Work Club her lack of confidence and self-doubt was evident. The adviser took time to give her the required support and to highlight positive aspects of her career that can be utilised in the future (i.e. her care work experience).
With time Mrs AK become more open, positive and confident and while initially she focused on her negative past experience she started talking about the future and possible new employment, especially care work (an area she had experience in and she finds she has a natural ability and desire to look after the sick and elderly). Mrs AK was very happy to be a part of a group again and at the end of the Work Club she treated the whole class to a lovely home-made cake.
When Mrs AK joined the project her confidence, motivation and self-belief was non-existent. Despite her depression she made great efforts to make a positive change to her life and on completion she left with a new gained confidence and positive attitude as well as a new CV, and an aim to find new employment as a care worker. Four months after the completion of Work Club Mrs AK contacted her Advisor to say she is now working for a flower processing company and continues to look for suitable employment within the social sector.
Coordinator & Contact
T: 01234 857661,
Partners on this Project
- Access Europe (AE)
- Bedfordshire African Community Centre (BACC)
- Centre for Youth and Community Development (CYCD)
- Luton Adult Learning (LAL)
- Polish British Integration Centre (PBIC)